When Being Authentic Isn’t Good

With so much talk these days about people looking for more authenticity, it isn’t a wonder why over the years this has been a big topic of conversation in churches.  In order to become more “real”, it requires a person to become more vulnerable about their struggles and failures.  It exposes people for who they really are and opens them up to embarrassment, ridicule, and possible gossip.  Many have sought to create a safe place in church in which broken people can find hope and encouragement.

Sounds great doesn’t it??  Doesn’t everyone desire a place of honesty and trust??

In order for anyone to truly put their faith in Jesus, they must recognize who they are before the Lord and that their sin has separated them from Him.  A person must humble themselves and acknowledge how they have chosen to believe and do things by going against God’s commands and going their own way.  Without submitting to God by being authentic, one can never find hope, grace, and forgiveness.

But what is becoming more common today is that in the midst of rejoicing over people feeling comfortable enough to admit their sin, the pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme.  Instead of having “godly sorrow” (1 Corinthians 7:10) over sin, many are now praising their sinfulness rather than being utterly ashamed.  While no one would rightfully say it is acceptable to continue in sin, there is a great fear that preaching repentance, obedience, holiness, and God’s Way leads only to legalism.

Many have turned authenticity into celebrating their sinfulness rather than true repentance.  This should not be.

Just because someone may share about their life in an open and honest way, doesn’t mean that they have then put their faith in Jesus.  A person might feel great relief, but it may not equate leaving a life of sin for obedience to the Lord.  That is why authenticity devoid of repentance is nothing more than airing out dirty laundry.

There are many in the Christian world that love talking about “brokenness”.  Others, in the Hyper Grace movement and even a large number of mainstream churches and ministries, often love talking about how life is “messy” and “chaotic”.  Although these terms might describe the realities of our lives at times, these aren’t things we should happily embrace, but should move beyond them.  If our focus is merely about how “broken”, “messy”, and “chaotic” our lives may be, we have greatly missed the true understanding of faith in Jesus.  Sure, it might play well to the masses, but it doesn’t offer real hope if we never move past living in such a mangled state.

It is quite admirable that churches want to create an environment and culture in which people can be honest about their struggles and failures.  We all sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:20).  But we can’t allow church to become nothing more than chasing after one sin issue to the next or even just a gathering where we seek to find out whose life is in the most disarray.

As the Church, it is good that we are able to share our struggles and sins with other believers.  It allows us to encourage and minister to one another.  It can also allow for a loving rebuke for those that might be living in unrepentant sin.  Therefore, churches must be places where we can have true fellowship by really getting to know each other and walk along side one another as we follow the Lord.  But the end of authenticity must never be glorifying our sinfulness.

Authenticity also has to be so much more than just being vulnerable about our lives.  It must also include being teachable.  Authenticity exposes us to not believing and acting like we should.  We must be willing, then, to adjust our beliefs and actions as we grow in our understanding of the Bible and how to live out God’s commands.  Seeking Truth has to be at the heart of those wanting to follow the Lord if we are to really be authentic.

Much of what is being proclaimed about being authentic fails today; as it comforts people with God’s forgiveness, without exhorting people to amend their ways.  If we encourage people to be real and honest about their lives, we must also explain there is a cost.  Authenticity is good, but only good, if accompanied by repentance and growing in faith and obedience to the Lord.