Brene Brown, who has become our modern day “evangelist” for authenticity and vulnerability states, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” In other words, authenticity occurs when the relationship between who we are inwardly and how we act and appear outwardly are in harmony.
There is nothing wrong with our quest for harmony between our inner person and outer personage, it’s just not enough. Even if we succeed and express perfectly what we are within, our deepest longing for authenticity will not be satisfied.
There is a deeper level where authenticity is missing. We long to have a genuine, permanent identity, by virtue of being rooted in and formed by some ultimate reality. Jesus alone can satisfy our longing for authenticity. He not only gives the freedom to be outwardly what we are inwardly, but he also, and more importantly, enables us to be inwardly what we were designed to be by God.
Ultimately, Jesus is the standard for authenticity. He defines what it means to be an individual, to be loved in God’s own community, and to offer real hope to the world. Every day, we need to let go of ourselves more and more, that Christ might be displayed in us increasingly and endlessly.
With that in mind, let’s consider a few steps to possessing authenticity, using Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23 – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” as a guide.
Deny yourself daily:
Jesus reveals that the ultimate purpose of God for humans is that we bow under Christ’s lordship—that we yield to be his possession, depend on his provision, and aim at his honor. We are to repent of our rebellion and submit to Christ’s Lordship. God’s purpose in sending Christ to die for our sins and rise again was to purchase us out of slavery to the lordship of sin and bring us over as servants under the lordship of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 1 Peter 1:18).
Take up your cross daily:
Accept that this journey is a painful process, and cooperate with God as He initiates and carries out change in your life. As surely as you experience the death and burial of your broken self, you’ll also experience the resurrection of it.
Matthew 16:24-26 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Follow Jesus daily:
After you’ve denied yourself and have stayed at the cross, receive God’s Word, letting it be what covers you. Jesus’ story is yours, like a new garment to cover your nakedness. One passage that sums it up well is Ephesians 4:22-24, in which believers are called, “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Authenticity Occurs in Community:
All of us need redemption and renewal in all of life, and so we must be intentional to communicate that every day “right now” need to others regularly. How did you need Jesus yesterday? How do you need Him today? How do you need Him tomorrow? Tell that story to God, yourself, and to others.
What is true about you because of Jesus? What is true about the others in your church because of Jesus? What does that mean for your life with others? That is your new reality, and it’s theirs too, and it’s how we should see and treat ourselves and one another.
Authenticity in the Church is the quality of our exposure of brokenness and adornment in God’s grace. An authentic person is one who is both privately and publicly putting off the old self and, by God’s grace, putting on the renewed self.
Ambassador of Care