The Authority of Authenticity

 

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. (Mark 1:27)

 

I want my life to have meaning and my words to have impact.  “Greater works than these shall we do,” promises Jesus. What is my greater work?

 

Jesus had a presence that caused others to stop, look, and listen to what he was saying. I believe one of the critical qualities that bolstered Jesus’ personal power was his authenticity. Jesus was genuine. You may not have liked what he was saying; however, I believe you would have been compelled to wrestle with what he said. Grappling with truth does not guarantee following it. Like many, you might have chosen to deny and dismiss what he said.

 

Jesus’ parable of the soils (Mt. 13) teaches that the seeds of truth often don’t fall on good soil and bear fruit.  Truth sown does not guarantee truth grown. It is not sufficient to simply sow seeds of truth—the truth sown needs to be watered, fertilized, and cultivated. Listening and digesting truth requires intention and courage. It demands character to be willing to be disturbed by the gap between where you are and where you want to be. It takes faith to live in the not knowing—to refuse the comfort felt when we hide behind the façade of certainty.

 

Jesus radiated the penetrating property of unconflicted truth spoken from a heart of integrity. Jesus was all in, sold out, and absolutely dedicated to living the message he preached. His message was truth and his life was about love; loving his Father and loving each of us. Jesus knew there could be no love without truth. His words were truth spoken in love. His truth satisfied the hunger of a heart longing for love and authenticity.

 

Jesus also understood that to grow we much know the truth about ourselves; however, maybe the most important element to growth was the context in which the truth was shared. The ideal conditions for growth are authentic relationships. It is the living and being together moment-by-moment that promotes to the seeds of truth sown finding their way to the good soil. The transforming power is in our authenticity lived out existentially—moment by moment in the here and now of life.

 

Who are you, really? What do you feel so passionate about that you are willing to take a stand for? How often do you give in to the urge to conform instead of express your truest self? Too often we alter personas or positions, like a chameleon switches colors, attempting to blend in with our environment. We give in to being spectators instead of prophets—those who hide out in the stands don’t run the risk of getting hurt in the game.

 

We all fear rejection and want to fit in and at times do everything possible to avoid standing out and risking being seen. We are all tempted to take the shortcut of conformity rather than risk the rejection that may come when we tell the truth. Many of us numb our aliveness so that we don’t risk thinking outside the box. We don’t want to admit having any seditious thoughts that would disturb the guardians of the status quo.

 

Patricia Raybon speaks of her struggle with being authentic in her book, My First White Friend: Confessions on Race, Love and Forgiveness. Raybon writes, “So my hair was ironed and my speech was clipped and my manners were bound and chaste and perfect. Thus I was comfortable to them—but a stranger to myself. That “self” was pushed so far down behind my façade she had nearly perished, suffocated under the weight of my duplicity.”

 

I identify so strongly with her desperate hunger to fit in that was waging war with her need to be genuine and live true to herself. The cost of conformity is that we become strangers to ourselves. We end up forgetting who we really are because we are so accustomed to being our adapted self. Our false self, that social chameleon, lives at the level of survival, striving simply to fit in.

 

How many of us feel with Patricia, that we are being crushed under the weight of our duplicity? Hearing the word duplicity gives me an ache in my soul. I am painfully aware of how two-faced I am. Too often I choose the path of comfort and safety instead of choosing courageously to live in integrity and express what is true for me

 

It is time for you to come out. Discover the authentic you. Experience what you feel and express what you believe—affirm what is true for you in the moment. We all need to uncover what is most true about us and sow our seeds broadly. Strive for authenticity in pursuit of integrity. Choose to engage authentically as you live in community. When you are living authentically and expressing responsibly you will be agents of transformation.

 

 

 

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Published: 24.09.2011 / 12:00 PM

Category: Grappling with God,Relationships,Spiritual Growth

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