Tuesday, October 18, 2016


In a world of mask-wearing, we yearn for authenticity.

I like being authentically me. Why? I don’t like to expend energy to hide who I am. It’s much more fun to be able to be transparent and laugh at myself. It’s part of the liberty that I have in Christ.

Liberty? Yes! I don’t have to prove myself. I don’t have to become the ideal person so that others will love me. Why not? I am really convinced about the Bible’s truth that my life is no longer about me and my trying to be somebody that I am not:

·       I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20; ESV)

This raises an important question – “What does it mean to live authentically?” For the artist, this might mean letting our feelings hang out. After all, aren’t we our feelings? Don’t they define who we are?

Perhaps, but not for someone who has the privilege of serving Christ. Who then am I? I am a servant of the Lord before all else. Does this mean that I am denying my feelings? Certainly not! But it does mean that these do not define who I am. I am His and He is mine. That’s who I am.

Yes, I struggle with powerful feelings of anger and even that horrid and sickening feeling of jealousy, but they are not essentially me. My life in Christ is what is authentically me! Therefore, authenticity does not require that I act-out, but that I live faithfully for the Truth, while I laugh at my pettiness.

But what is the highest truth of someone without the Savior? Themselves! Namely, their feelings! However, he cannot authentically live them out without incurring rejection, even self-contempt.

How then can he live authentically and connect to others authentically? He cannot. Instead, he must find a new face by suppressing the old selfish one. Consequently, he becomes an idealist, a do-gooder to convince himself and the world that he is good.

This is especially needful in the professional world where he is hired to implement programs to help others, where he must wear professional attire and manifest professional concerns, even as he carries a concealed dagger.

While underneath, he is a carnivore, he must live deceptively as an herbivore. Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly clear to him that he is living a double-life. He is not the herbivore as he presents himself. He finds that the mask cannot be reconciled with who he truly is. He wants to believe that he is a good and caring person, but it is becoming increasingly clear that he is not. He is no longer able to believe in his life and what he is doing. Therefore, in private, he cynically talks about “playing the game.” Cynicism becomes the only glue that can hold these two conflicting identities together.

I am all for doing good, but why? If we wear a mask, a deceptive front, to “prove” that we are a good and worthy person, holding forth our resume of good deeds, we are living inauthentically and the real self will continue emerge, to our chagrin, from behind the mask. It will not remain quiet but will continue to demand stage-center.

How to control it and to live authentically? We have to give the dark-side its own space. However, when it manifests, we can laugh at it and take responsibility. It’s like a pit-bull we have on a leash. We can’t hide it, and when it breaks lose to bite someone, we must take full responsibility. However, we can be transparent about it, denying it the power to operate in the darkness of denial.

“Out of the depths of the heart, the mouth will speak,” but we can humble ourselves and apologize for its words. We can allow ourselves to become accountable.

But how can we laugh at so destructive a force? How can we accept its presence? This is to admit that we are not a good person. It is like admitting that we are a pauper and not a prince. It is to surrender our good feelings about ourselves.

Who can endure such a crash, a fall from such great heights? We have to find our significance elsewhere, from above. Only when we are convinced that we possess something more valuable than our self-esteem – a Savior who has died for us and loves us despite our unloveliness – can we be authentic!

Besides, authenticity and self-acceptance pay great dividends – ability to accept others and even criticism, humility, other-centeredness, and non-defensiveness. By the grace of God, I can be who I truly am.

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