“Reading” us: truth, perfection, authenticity & hypocrisy

Posted 09 Sep 2014

“When people no longer read the Bible, all they have left to “read”, is our lives.” [ie Christian lives]. – quote of a friend of Dennis Pethers (the speaker in the great video, see link at bottom of page). Since this is so, it becomes clear why it is SO IMPORTANT that our lives DO point towards the truth of Jesus, his sacrifice & claims. Our lives as Christians need to be authentic; our actions & the way we live being harmoniously aligned with, & fully reflecting, the truth of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ.JC & hill cross 300x231px col

So many people don’t read the Bible, & are unaware of the truth it contains. Which means it can’t help them in the life situations they face daily. That is a serious depletion of heaven-sent advice which really can help us!

For us Christians: Be authentic.
Scripture says that; tell us to be that.

What’s being “authentic”?
Being consistent between words & deeds, between CLAIMED values & DISPLAYED values.
The opposite (inauthenticity) occurs when what we claim to believe & be governed by is not displayed in our lives.
A fuller definition can be found at the bottom of the page *1.

This is quite a difficult thing to achieve, because it calls ALL of our words & actions into account: all that we SAY we do, & then ACTUALLY do, we invite to be scrutinized! So on the one hand we strive for authenticity, but also realise that we might not always achieve it!
On the other hand, we mustn’t confuse AUTHENTICITY with PERFECTION either. None of us are prefect. Sometimes our stated values simply are not displayed. For example, someone cuts us up on the motorway & we (unfortunately) don’t say “Well bless you & have a nice day”, instead we let rip at them! That happens. It shouldn’t, but it does, especially when we are tired, hungry, angry, confused, divided, etc.

The truth is, EVERYONE is “a works in progress”: God hasn’t finished with us yet. We are not perfect. But still we could & should strive for authenticity, so that more of the time, more of our STATED VALUES are our DISPLAYED VALUES.

Maybe the most honest (& authentic) thing to say is, “I’m not perfect, but I am STRIVING to live authentically.”

Perhaps authenticity is simply stating to those who watch (& judge us) that we are trying. We are attempting. We are striving. We know the goal that we seek, but we don’t always live to such a high standard. Perhaps that is honest & so more authentic (of where we actually are in life) as well.

We know that God loves us. We know that we aren’t perfect. We know that our “rough” edges still need to be “smoothed”. We may not be where we want to be (yet), but the good news is, WE ARE ON OUR WAY!

How can we witness if we aren’t perfect?!
When it comes to witnessing, being authentic is not to say we have to be perfect BEFORE we talk to anyone about our beliefs!
Life can be, & is for many MANY people, incredibly hurtful & “messy”, for want of a better word to describe it. Should we wait (& keep silent) until we have all of our lives perfectly aligned & sorted out? Should we only tell people about the good stuff; i.e. when life goes well, when things come right; when we have no problems? Is that authentic?
If we do that then…

1) We’ll be waiting for ever, because life is often a complete mess! If we don’t tell people about our lives until they are perfectly lined up, then we’ll have to wait forever!

2) We are missing an opportunity to tell people the truth: that we Christians also have all sorts of problems (God doesn’t shield us from them) but that we have God closely with us, walking with us THROUGH every second of all those problematic times.
That is a more honest answer: we aren’t “sweeping our problems under the carpet” & failing to mention them to other people. Instead we tell people about the real-life problems we face, but we tell the whole truth: that we do not face our problems alone; Jesus walks with us. Sometimes he ADVISES us, sometimes he HELPS us, sometimes (when the problem is especially bad) he CARRIES us. But ALWAYS he is with us.

Hypocrisy/in-authenticity.Ecc 03 - Sc01 - Born, die, plant, uproot A4 PB 180x286px col

This is why hypocrisy is so destructive: because it UNDERMINES what we say, even if we don’t actually talk! If people watching Christian’s lives hear them say one thing, but see them doing the opposite, then that hypocritical behaviour undermines their witness. The person watching will conclude that the “so called truth” hasn’t affected that Christian’s behaviour much! What kind of “truth” is that?! Most people would reject the Christian message of the transforming power of Christ, quoting the behaviour of the Christian right back at them… and rightly so!

(For a definition of hypocrite see *2)

This is why God’s advice (through the apostle Peter) says: “Continue to live such upright lives among the gentiles (unbelievers) that, when they slander you as practicers of evil, they may [actually] see your good actions and glorify God when he visits them.” 1 Peter 2:12 (International Standard Version)
In other words, if our deeds & our words match up (upright lives), then even though other people may say that we behave badly, the proof of our deeds will support our claim that Jesus lives within us; our actions will support our words & even those who berate us fro being Christians will see the good deeds & have to admit that we “do” good things. That is authentic living.

People can’t be told that Jesus will always deflect every bad thing from their lives & everything will be hunky-dorey if they become Christians, because that may not be their experience (it hasn’t been mine!) But what we can tell people is that in the MIDST of the problems, the terrors & the heartache situations, THERE we will find our God Jesus walking right beside us, just as He promised to. And that makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.

You Tube video URL of Dennis Pethers:

Definition of Authentic & Authenticity

01) real or genuine : not copied or false.
02) true and accurate.
03) made to be or look just like an original.
[Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary.]

Definition of Hypocrite

Someone who says they have particular moral beliefs but behaves in way that shows these are not sincere.
[Source: Cambridge Dictionary.]

A person who pretends to be what he is not.
[Source: Collins English Dictionary.]

01) a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.
02) a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion.
03) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.
[Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary.]

Bible Quotes about Hypocrite & Hypocrisy

Matthew 6:1-34 (ESV)
[Jesus said] “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Romans 2:3-4 (ESV)
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
[Judging someone for a deed & doing the same thing yourself is hypocrisy.]

1 John 3:10 (ESV)
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
[Hypocrisy is saying we love people, but not actually following though with our deeds.]

James 4:17 (ESV)
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
[Knowing something is wrong, & yet still doing it = hypocrisy]

2 Corinthians 11:14 (ESV)
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
[Satan is a deceiver & seeks to deceive us, masquerading as an angel of light.]

Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
[How to avoid hypocrisy, by confessing our sins]


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