Authentic is a big word. Webster’s Dictionary defines authentic as conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features; made or done the same way as an original; not false or imitation. When a person is looking for an authentic stamp, that stamp has to meet certain criteria. A replica won’t suffice; neither will a copy because the value would not be the same. It would not possess the true qualities of the authentic stamp.
When it comes to Christianity, authenticity is essential. There are far too many people in our society who claim to be Christians but they are anything but Christians in their behavior and interactions with others. Too many times, I have observed people who walk out of a church building on Sunday morning and go to a restaurant only to make a public scene about the poor quality of service. I have also witnessed cars on the freeway with a “Jesus Fish” on the back while their drivers cut in and out of traffic and display obscene gestures to the surrounding vehicles.
While fake Christianity causes a multitude of problems, perhaps the biggest concern is that these people give true Christianity a bad name. After all, the word Christian means one who follows Christ. When people of the world watch those who follow Christ acting in a manner that is inconsistent with what they believe should be the core value system of Christianity, they are completely turned off by the thought of becoming a Christian. Time after time, Christians have defamed the message of Christ by conducting themselves in ways that are not modeled by the Holy One.
Peter writes, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NIV) As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to live as ones chosen by God and as made holy by the blood of the Son. Although it is a higher standard, it is a standard of humility, self-sacrifice and putting others before yourself. It is a standard of contentment, encouragement and joy.
While we live in a world where everything is synthetic and processed, people still want real relationships. Non-Christians expect to see those who proclaim to be Christians to live in a manner consistent with their belief system. People who are seeking a relationship with Christ can see right through the façade and they want no part of it. If we are to impact our world for Christ, it is imperative that we remove anything that is unreal in our lives. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” I believe that people who are seeking a relationship with Christ are going to find that relationship through Christians who are actively living out their lives in Christ all the time. Every time you step outside of that authentic relationship with Christ, you are not bearing fruit for the Kingdom.
Does your life model a genuine relationship with Christ or have you become a cheap knock-off?