| ON BEING AUTHENTIC
By: Jerry S. Maneker
"And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto
the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other." (Mark 3:5)
Jesus was authentic! He expressed His feelings as they came to Him! In the above passage He shows both anger and
grief. Indeed, His anger was made manifest because of the grief He felt at the stubbornness and blindness of the
Pharisees. Most of our anger, too, stems from the frustration and grief that we feel concerning social institutions and
relationships! He told them that He was Lord of all; certainly "...Lord also of the sabbath." (Mark 2:28) Yet they hated
Him, the One Who came to save them from the consequences of their sins. They hated their Messiah, the Messenger
Who came to bring them the good news of the Gospel.
We are called to be authentic! Unfortunately, many Christians and non-Christians feel we have to adopt some
milquetoast personality; a phony humility and passivity to be a Christian. Nothing could be further from the truth! God
calls us to authenticity, in that He takes us where we are and shepherds us on the path He has set for us in increments
He has determined. Indeed, this expectation is true for non-Christians as well!
Quite a while ago I read a story about Thomas Dewey, Governor of New York, who ran against Harry Truman for
President in 1948. Everyone expected Dewey to win. Indeed, the polls showed him to be such a favorite that one
newspaper had as a front page headline, even before the ballots were counted, the fact that Dewey had won the
election. A smiling Harry Truman is shown holding that front page article and picture of Dewey upon hearing of his own
Dewey's secretary was interviewed after he died and said that he was a broken man from that time until his death. The
reason was not that he had lost the election, but that he allowed others to mold him into something he was not, and
make decisions for him with which he disagreed. He never knew if he would have won the election if he had been
authentic, and run the race as the real Thomas Dewey, rather than as a phony facade erected by others.
To be inauthentic is tantamount to cowardice! We are afraid of what others may think of us, or if our "friends" will
abandon us if they find out the "real" person behind the mask we present to the public. Clearly, a friend is one who
accepts you for who you are, warts and all. If he or she rejects the real you, his or her friendship isn't worth very much
in the first place, so why bother trying to be something or someone you're not?
This fact may be one reason why Isaiah says, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to
be accounted of?" (Isaiah 2:22) In this connection, Paul says, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to
please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10)
When we trust God fully for every aspect of our lives, we can allow ourselves to be authentic, even if that authenticity
may rub some people raw. We don't seek to do anything to hurt others, but we must externalize the person God has
created, which certainly include the characteristics some might find offensive. Clearly, some find the message of the
Cross offensive, so why should we hedge when the authentic person, Christian or non-Christian, whom God loves is
found to be offensive by some others?
The people who are in bondage to other people are not in bondage to God. When one is in bondage to God, he or she
does not have to be in bondage to other people, unless God directs that person to do so. Even though Paul sought to
be all things to all people so as to win people to Christ, even he caused offense by his zealotry and single-minded
devotion to Jesus. He put himself in bondage to win others to Christ, not to make himself look good or in any way hinder
the Gospel or hinder God's work in him. Hence, his statement, and lesson to us, in Galatians 1:10.
Only when we are in bondage to God are we truly free from the demands and expectations of others who seek to make
us inauthentic. "...there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24) That friend is Jesus!
Cultivating that friendship enables us to transcend demands and expectations that drive us into inauthenticity, thereby
making us into someone who can't have a genuine relationship with God, because we, ourselves, are not genuine.
A true friendship only exists when people are genuine with each other. This statement is true for humans, and also true
for people's relationship with their Creator. The irony is that most people see through our facades anyway. If people
can see through our inauthenticity, imagine what God sees and thinks?