Today, I want to draw our attention to the ways we are inauthentic—i.e., the times when we are fake, or wearing a mask, or unduly guarded.
When we are authentic, we are true to how we understand ourselves (our personality, our spirit, or our character) in that moment. We are not false in the presentation of ourselves to God, others, or our own self.
This means we can be authentic about feelings, states of mind, and perspectives that could be considered either negative or positive. Perhaps in the future, we can do one about the sadness of not sharing the positive, but today, I want to focus on the negative stuff that we cover up when we are inauthentic.
When we are inauthentic, we are deep in the clutches of hypocrisy. I have intentionally not used “hypocrisy” as the item-to-be-pruned today. That’s because we tend to think the opposite of hypocrisy is some sort of Christian perfection. i.e., Christians are hypocrites when they fail act like Christ. But that’s an inaccurate view of hypocrisy.
At its core, to be a hypocrite is to be an actor (you can check the etymology of ‘hypocrite’ here). To be a hypocrite means we’re putting on false pretenses. The opposite of hypocrisy is being raw and real … in other words, authentic.
This is what Jesus says to the disciples about being hypocrisy: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Luke 12:2-4)
God wants to prune us of hypocrisy, not so that we the world can see just how ugly we are underneath our masks, but because authenticity is a gateway to transformation. It’s a pathway to leaning entirely on God and his grace. As we are more authentic with God, self, and others, the Spirit uses that authenticity to grow us into who God made us to be. Without authenticity, we never present to God the parts of ourselves that needs redemption—our ignorance, sin, inadequacy, insecurity, etc. Likewise, when we are inauthentic and hypocritical, we are at the height of ungodliness.
Yet again, may we surrender to the pruning shears of the Master Gardener:
TODAY’s PRAYER: Lord of all, show me the places where I am being inauthentic. Help me to shed that hypocrisy so that I can be raw and real about just how much I need your grace and your goodness.
PS. If this feels familiar, that’s because it’s not only a continuation of some things mentioned in yesterday’s sermon, but also because today’s entry is closely related to the entry from last Monday — here.
PPS. Here’s a caveat to this stuff about being inauthentic: Sometimes we have to hold back from being entirely forthright because the people in our midst are immature, reactive, and unsafe. In other words, they will either intentionally or inadvertently mishandle our authenticity. How do we tell the difference between when it’s necessary or unnecessary to guard against such things? I think one litmus test would be our level of internal anxiety. We all know the difference between proactively choosing our behavior based on values (i.e., we only share with safe people) and unintentionally reacting based on being fearful and anxious (i.e., I’m unwilling to share because of my own fear, not the person’s inability to handle it).