{ Don’t let your authenticity get in the way of your sanctification }

Authenticity. Honesty. Realness.

What our world craves now more than ever is people who are genuinely and uniquely themselves. Memories of getting up extra early to dress in our “Sunday Best” for church are fading away with other relics of the 20th century.

Americans are desperate for a God and a church who allow them to be exactly who they are. This is GREAT news because God never tells us we have to “dress up” physically or spiritually to come to Him.

He just asks that we come.

I truly believe He’d rather us be an honest mess than a polished phony.

While I am so grateful for the cultural shift that’s happening, I cant help but notice an air of unrepentance hovering over our newly authenticated congregations.

Our acceptance of personal imperfection can, at times, be twisted into a theology of “Jesus loves me no matter what I do so I don’t need to change”.

Lets take using cuss words for example.

A lot of people believe that cussing is a “just a way to express their emotions”.

 Its not a big deal.

 Jesus doesn’t care if I cuss as long as I’m not cussing at others.

And my favorite “I’ve always been this way so there’s no reason for me to change now.”

In full disclosure, I cuss too. I do. But I try not to. I try to allow the Holy Spirit to work on my heart and my mouth. I know old habits die hard BUT there is a difference between being stuck in a cycle and flat out not caring.

What’s convicted me most in regard to my mouth is Jesus’ resurrection. I know, you’re probably thinking what on earth does that have to do with cuss words? Well… it has everything to do with it. And any other sin we struggle with.

If Christians say we believe the same Holy Spirit lives inside us that has the power to raise Jesus from the dead then wouldn’t you think we have the power to control our mouths?

We have to believe that Jesus is more powerful than any desire to use words that don’t honor Him or others.

The problem is, we care more about being “real” than we do about being sanctified. We think being real means staying in the rawest, dirtiest version of ourselves. We don’t want to be changed, we want to say what we want when we want to. And do what we want when we want to.

We live in a culture that values authenticity to the point of cruelty. It doesn’t matter what you say if youre “being honest”. It doesn’t matter how you treat people, if that’s “just who you are”.

You all know that one person who has to be buffered before they met a new person. It goes like this:

“Hey “new person” I’m excited you’re coming to our party, I cant wait for you to meet our friends, but hey if Erica says something rude to you. Don’t mind her. That’s just how she is.

We accept a pattern of behavior as a valid argument for people to act as they wish and never be held accountable. Because hey! They are just being real.

While I know we are ALL in process with Jesus and can never know the motives of another person’s heart the way Jesus does, I think we need to challenge our beliefs a little.

Jesus loves you right where you are. That is 100% true. But He never ever says, keep on sinning, its fine. Live how you want to, it doesn’t matter. Jesus preached about repentance as much as He did love.

In John 14 its says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” i.e. “Forgive as I have forgiven you. Love as I have loved you. TALK to others with the same respect that I have shown you.”

The first thing He said to the woman after saving her from being stoned was “Go, sin no more” (John 8). He didn’t free her to let her continue to live in a lifestyle of bondage. He freed her, so she could live in freedom forever.

Jesus loves us too much to leave us where we are. Its His kindness that draws us to repentance. And I praise God for it honestly. There are SO many things (unforgiveness, bitterness, anger) that I let destroy my relationship with God and others for way too long. While it was hard to fess up to the unneeded burdens I carried, I’m so grateful God convicted me of those sins and is helping me rid myself of them.

Had I continued to accept that’s just “who I was” without embracing Gods grace to change, I would’ve ended up an old, lonely woman with an empty house and heart full of bitterness. That is NOT picture I like looking forward to.

My hope is that we take a long hard look at ourselves. Ask yourself a couple questions:

Am I broken? YES

Am I honest about my sins? I hope so.

Am I allowing Jesus to change me as He sees fit? ……..

I cant answer the last one for you. I cant tell you who you were made to be. But I can tell you Jesus wants us to be real about the fact that we sin and the fact that we desperately need Our Savior to help us change.

We can change. We can grow. Theres always hope for a different tomorrow, Because we serve the God of hope. (Romans 15:13)

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