I follow this page on Facebook called The Dirty Christian. It’s run by a guy named Drew Koehler who found God after serving in the US Navy. This guy has a story. He also has a blog that you should check out to find out more about him. Click that link and then come back here and listen to me talk.
Koehler’s philosophy is that Christianity is supposed to be offensive. It’s not supposed to be soft and cute, full of Joyce Meyers and “type Amen if you agree.” Real truth is disruptive. It’s not a book that we keep on the shelf and pull out only when we’re feeling sad.
And you know what Christianity also isn’t? Authenticity.
What the heck is Authenticity anyway?
I’ve been messing around with this word in my head for a long time, pretty much ever since I stepped into the Christian college scene. “Authenticity” gets thrown around a lot in these circles. Authentic Christianity, authentic worship…you name it.
And looking around on a college campus like this, you’d probably think you’re seeing a lot of authentic Christians. These are people who lift their hands and fall to their knees in “real,” raw worship. These are people who strum hymns on their guitar while sitting in the grass. These are people who post verses and encouraging words on their Instagram photos –
Hey, wait a second. That’s not authenticity.
I just Googled the word “authentic,” and the computer bots gave me this answer:
“Of undisputed origin; genuine.”
Do all Christians come from the “undisputed origin” of Christ? I’d wager a yes.
Are all Christians authentic? …it depends.
I think that in Western Christianity, we have a great need to hide ourselves. And sometimes the place we hide is not in the shadow of our Savior’s wings. I’m talking about me too, here. I think sometimes we’re afraid of disruptive love and truth, so we hide further in our darkness while putting on a masquerade of light.
We say that we’ll pray for someone, but our prayers remain selfish.
We search for answers, but we don’t search for them in Scripture.
We pray that our bad habits will be replaced, but we make no effort to replace them.
Because we don’t want our lives to be disrupted.
C.S. Lewis had a lot to say about nice people. Nice people are nice all on their own, it seems. They’re not super amazing people or super “bad” people. They’re just…nice. There are a lot of just “nice” people in the world. And, unfortunately, those “nice” people don’t feel the need for that disruptive love that is offered to them, whether they realize it or not.
A lot of us are “nice.” Nice people with hearts full of tar.
We’re all “dirty Christians.” There’s a reason John Calvin called it “total depravity.”
I think our problem is we think we can get by on our own merits. No surprise there – that’s been a constant struggle for religious folks since the Pharisees. Everyone wants to look good to other people, right? So we try to be especially spiritual. We talk about Jesus with authority even though we haven’t cracked open our Bibles in months, we lift our hands in praise when our hearts are from it, we hide the muck of our souls from people by using the fake gild of Authenticity.
I said it.
Authenticity is a disguise.
For every Christian.
An authentic Christian is one who knows he’s addicted to alcohol and needs help. An authentic Christian is one who opens her Bible every day, not in public, but in her living room at 5:30am with a cup of coffee. An authentic Christian is one who knows he sins daily, hourly – but clings to the healing and disruptive love of God.
An authentic Christian is one who invites the love of God to disrupt every corner of his soul.
I’ll be honest with you, friends. I’m not there yet either. If anything, this entire post is me calling myself out. There are corners of my heart that I don’t want anyone to see – not even my Savior. Most days, I don’t love Jesus as much as I should. I sail by on my own merits, existing as a “nice” person.
So here’s my punchline: What is authenticity? It’s vulnerability. It’s bearing your soul fully and completely. It’s that whole-hearted knowledge that you 100% can’t do it on your own. That the only true shelter you will find is in the shadow of His wings.
No amount of hand-raising, hymn-humming, Hebrew-tattooing, or Bible-memorizing will make us anymore authentic. Our authenticity comes from our wholehearted identity in Christ.
Only then will we be seen as branches of the true Vine.