Guest Writer: Laura Terry
Authenticity. I’m hearing this word a lot these days. When you read it, what comes to mind? Usually, the intended meaning is to be genuine, honest, forthright, and true-to-yourself –unapologetically so. These are suitable uses for the word and do encompass a partial view of what authenticity means. However, I think there is a bigger, more meaningful definition of the word that is missing in how it’s used today.
To be authentic means to be something original to a place and/or made by a creator. For example, the Louvre in Paris contains the painting Mona Lisa, an authentic work of art by Leonardo da Vinci. People have reproduced it, been inspired by it, and taken their photograph with it, but there is only one authentic Mona Lisa. Similarly, my grandfather has an authentic helmet issued by the US Army during the Korean War. He could take it on Antiques Roadshow and valuers would classify it as authentic because it was actually made during and for the War. Both the helmet and the painting are authentic because of where they came from and who made them.
Similarly, our most complete form of authenticity comes from God, our creator. To be truly authentic, we must not only be true to ourselves, but more so be true to who God created us to be. The Mona Lisa is only authentic because it was made by Da Vinci. It cannot be authentic separate from the one who created it. We cannot be truly authentic separate from God. Our completeness and wholeness and trueness come when Christ is in us and we are living our lives, not true to ourselves and how we want to, but true to God and how he made us to live.
Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Here Paul is saying that once we receive the Holy Spirit, it is no longer us living in our own will and being true to ourselves, but us living out God’s will by Christ’s example and being true to His Spirit residing in us.
Paul is such a great biblical example of authenticity. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, he (called by his Hebrew name, Saul, at that time) was living quite true to himself and his own beliefs, and unashamedly so. He was persecuting Christians without remorse, and in fact believing he was right to do so. He was living out our current societal definition of authenticity. However, we do not see him actually living a full authentic life until after his conversion when he receives Christ as his Savior and begins his mission to live out God’s will in his life. Only then does Paul (now using a Gentile name in the mission field) say in Ephesians 5, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”
This, I believe, is biblical authenticity: To live in the example of Christ, who often stated where he came from and Who he came from; to have our souls filled with the Holy Spirit and to unashamedly show this to the world; and, to be living in the will of God, our maker, who has purposed our lives from the very beginning, and who knows us better than we know ourselves.
Sisters, hear me say that I know this can be hard. We can feel comfy and cozy at home with Jesus, but stepping into the world feels dangerous and judgmental and full of temptation to stray from our authentic life in Christ. The worldly view of authenticity, to just be yourself—any “self” is fine—without apology, is much easier. But it isn’t fuller. It is only as true as the length of your earthly life. But, sis, we were made for more by the One who loves us more—much, much more.
God, my Maker and Creator, help me to live an authentic life. Not one that relies on my own thoughts, feelings, and ideas, but one that desires to be in line with Your will and the intentions You set out for my life. In following You, let me feel the wholeness of Your goodness for my life and satisfaction in Your purpose over me. You are so good and in Christ, your son, my Savior, I find the perfect example of authenticity. Amen.
Sis, here's to living our fullest, authentic life! Love, Laura
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