Wednesday, September 22, 2004

authentically dangerous

Hi, I’m Rob, and I’m a Boomer. At least that’s the camp my birth certificate squarely puts me in. I don’t actually think or live a whole lot like most boomers, but I certainly “get” them. We’re performance-oriented. Often pretentious. Even narcissistic. Of course, we’d prefer to think that we’re just hard working and committed to doing whatever we can to make this world a better place to live.

We’ve been labeled the “me” generation because we’ve pillaged the world to indulge ourselves with material pleasures. O.K., guilty as charged.

But there seems to be a new indulgence in our emerging culture that may be just as destructive as any material indulgence of my generation. It’s a verbal indulgence that seems to spring out of our new blue chip value - authenticity.

Now, I’m a huge fan of authenticity, especially given the alternative—pretentiousness. We encourage those we are leading to live out a raw spirituality. By that we mean a humble, Spirit-yielded, unrehearsed life. Unfortunately, “unrehearsed” all too often gets interpreted as “unbridled,” and life suddenly gets real painful for everybody else!

If authenticity becomes a license to verbalize whatever is in our hearts, then we may be perilously close to using authenticity as a facade for a new kind of self-indulgence. A verbal indulgence. In real life, it’s not always O.K. to say something just because I feel like it. It’s not all about me. In fact, it’s about others.

Being authentically honest means I’m honest with my brokenness. Authenticity is almost always confessional, not accusatory. It means I confess that at times I’m a loaded weapon…I’m wounded and I can be dangerous. But being authentic doesn’t mean I always have to take the safety off and pull the trigger. And it never means I should shoot with the intent to harm. If authenticity requires us to pull the trigger and discharge whatever is in our hearts, then I’d choose hypocrisy!

I value authenticity. But I value love even more.

(See chapter 4 in McManus’ “Uprising” for more on authenticity and integrity)

5 comments:

mb said...

Authenticity in my life insists that I "walk my talk!" What good is it to CLAIM that I am a Christ follower if I do not FOLLOW his example? I know what my walk SHOULD look like--but i have to ask myself...what DOES it look like? The bottom line for me is that if I am not demonstrating the same Spirit-seeking/yeilding posture as Jesus then I cannot call myself an "authenitic" follower of him...

...and to punctuate Rob's point--there is a BIG difference between being "real" and being "rude"!

Christian Steffen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christian Steffen said...

Accidentally deleted this. Ouch!!! Let's try this again.


Wow. I've been fairly struck lately by how true this is. Being someone who shuns confrontation, I'm not always very likely to "tell the truth" when sometimes it needs to be said. But...one of the reasons I struggle in this area, is I've seen SO OFTEN people struck down by someone "speaking the truth in love." Although, love had clearly left the building.

I remember I had this revalation one time that God's Word is referred to as a sword and so often, instead of using that sword on our circumstances, problems, etc. we used it on each other. And feeling pretty justified about it all because of the source. When it comes to dealing with each other, it's time to put the sword down and pick up the ointment (or some other healing metaphor).

The time to speak the truth is when we have a firm belief that the person we are speaking to is:

1. Ready to receive it
2. What we say will produce life in them

I guess that's another way to check where we're at with this. What did my authenticity produce? Reciprocated authenticity? Life? Or did it just produce pain and hurt? If my truth can't spur someone on, it's wasted, regardless of how true it is.

I'm reminded of the album title by the UK band, Manic Street Preachers (for all you boomers out there...that's not a Christian band). The album is "This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours." I think that's a great way to approach authenticity. The truth I'm sharing is my truth. My hope is it will inspire truth in you.

Mark Barr said...

It’s been said that Christians are an army that like to shoot their wounded. Spending my whole life in the church, I can say I’ve been on the receiving end of the “friendly fire” more than a few times. I have to confess that over the years, I’ve grown kind of cynical and even dropped out of the whole religious scene for a while. The good news is I’m back in the game and craving authenticity for myself and in the community I belong to. What I’m not looking to be is a “fixer” or a “flasher”. (Attempting to correct others faults or sharing too much of my own stuff that others really don't need to know) What I crave is being real: touchable, knowable, approachable, transparent, and a sanctuary for others. Read The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. That’s my idea of being authentic.
By the way, I’m a fan of that Manic Street Preachers and I’m a Boomer.

Tim McDonald said...

I will hear what God the LORD will say;
          For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;
          But let them not turn back to folly.
       Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
          That glory may dwell in our land.
        Lovingkindness and truth have met together;
           Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
       Truth springs from the earth,
          And righteousness looks down from heaven.
       Indeed, the LORD will give what is good,
          And our land will yield its produce.
        Righteousness will go before Him
          And will make His footsteps into a way.
Psalm 85:8-13

As we represent our King let us not forget what He looks like... salvation and fear... lovingkindness and truth... righteousness and peace. Help us Lord to live with the reality of who You are!