Speaker and author Rachel Held Evans used to say about the Bible, when she spoke or preached from the Scriptures, “On the days that I believe this, here is what this says to me.”
While to some a statement like that might seem a bit blasphemous or, at the very least, not very biblically solid, I have to admit that I actually like her sentiment. Not because I find myself in agreement with it or because I, like her, find myself struggling to believe God’s words, but because in her honest confession she was making something very clear:
Doubting is a normal part of the faith journey, and just because someone wonders about the truth of something, it doesn’t mean that they are any less authentic about their belief.
Authenticity is an important word. By definition it simply means to be genuine and real. It’s something that we want to be true about many of our experiences and many of the people that we encounter.
We want to know that the relationship that we are in is authentic – that there is honesty and genuineness in the love that is being professed.
We want to know that the products we are purchasing are authentic. No one wants to buy something fake or a cheap knock-off of an expensive brand.
We want to know that the food that we eat is authentic – that it’s not overly processed or fake.
We want our news to be authentic. “Fake news” is a hot topic these days and something that just about everyone can identify.
We want people in our lives to be genuine in their approach to us. Believing that someone is authentic makes us trust them, and we want trust to exist in the world around us.
But do we set the same standard for our own faith and our walk with God? Can we say that there is a sense of authenticity in how we interact with God, or in the Christian life that we present to the world?
If being authentic means being genuine and real, then it’s important that we consider this idea in relation to the kind of people and Christians that we are or claim to be. Are we honest with God? Are we honest with our feelings about Him or His Word? Are we able to confess to Him our weaknesses, our doubts, our fears, our insecurities, and the things that we struggle to believe on some days?
Being authentic about our faith journey means that we are honest about the fact that we don’t have all the answers, we don’t always know if we are right, and we wrestle with questions and doubts sometimes. It means being able to say, “I don’t know exactly how to explain it all. I don’t even know if I have it all right. But I believe God and I am willing to move forward with Him.”
But being authentic doesn’t just mean being honest. It also means that our faith is genuine. It means that there is something about our faith in Jesus that trumps every doubt or uncertainty we ever have. It means that we take our walk with God seriously and we choose not to be “fake” with our faith.
Being fake can take on many different forms, and I’ve seem almost all of them in my lifetime. I’ve even been guilty of some of them.
Being fake with our faith looks like claiming to be a Christian but not really committing fully to Jesus.
Being fake looks like having a “Sunday only” relationship with God, and spending the rest of the week walking in our flesh or chasing things that aren’t of God.
It looks like “going to church” all of your life but never really experiencing or submitting to the actual teachings of Jesus.
Or self-identifying as a Christian while your heart, your attitudes, your thoughts, your political views, your opinions, and your choices demonstrate that your faith is just a religion and not an authentic devotion to Christ.
I have been guilty in so many ways over the years of failing to live out an authentic faith. I can’t even begin to tell you how inauthentic I was in my Christianity in the past. I have seen how weak and dead and dry faith can be when genuineness is lacking and I don’t ever want to return to that.
I want my faith and my walk with Jesus to be real. I want a faith that is based on honest confessions, on genuine love for Jesus, on the trust that I have in Him and the obedience that He calls me to.
This is what an authentic faith really is. And it’s what I long to see in the lives of God’s people all over this world. It’s time for authenticity and realness to take the place of the lazy, apathetic, faith that so many have clung to for so long.
It’s time for authenticity.