While I was reviewing various sources of Christian literature to find a definition of authenticity that resonated with me, I came across an article which cited Ephesians 4:22-24, calling believers… “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Authenticity in the Christian context is the degree of our brokenness and our adornment in God’s grace. An authentic person is one who is both, privately and publicly, putting off the old self and, by God’s grace, putting on the renewed self.
Being an authentic Christian does not mean being a perfect one. Far from it. We are broken vessels, prone to sin and folly. And God knows we are such. But when our conduct falls short, we should be quick to admit it, seek forgiveness and get back in step with Christ. An authentic Christian fully embraces the grace of God and should also be quick to give His grace to others. We need God’s grace when we err. Equally, we need to readily demonstrate God’s grace to others when we are wronged.
So what steps can we take to start possessing authenticity? Three much-loved and familiar hymns come to mind to help us chart the path towards authenticity.
“Search me O God and know my heart today”
A good starting point is to regularly put into practice the words of Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
The natural consequence of putting these words into practice is that when we prayerfully examine ourselves, our thoughts and our conduct, we come to a greater realisation of our own brokenness and failings. And when we lay our ruins at the cross and seek to be made whole again by the redemptive blood of the Lamb, we grow in greater appreciation of our constant need for God’s abiding grace.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one”
We complain, whine and gripe too often. I believe that if we dedicate some time each day to count our blessings and give thanks, we will slowly but surely develop a very different outlook to life. Through this process, I am growing in realisation that all that I have or have achieved are, in truth, blessings from the Father. And as I grow in appreciation of my status as a beneficiary of providence, I learn humility and I desire God’s favour more deeply.
“Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord”
We are a forgetful people. I believe that the hymn writer calls us to “tell out… the greatness of the Lord”, not only to edify the hearers of our stories, but also to serve as constant reminders of the “unnumbered blessings” showered upon us each day. In my personal experience, not many people are really interested to hear of my achievements! A boast often begets a boast from the listener and the conversation soon descends in that direction. On the other hand, when I share short anecdotes of how God has blessed me, I sense that people listen to me! This also leads them to share the blessings they have experienced, and the body of Christ is edified in the process.
When we constantly speak of His love, His acts and His blessings, our focus shifts from “I” to “Him”, and we progress in our journey of “put[ting] on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”. We become more accessible to others, our narratives become more compelling and we impact more lives for His sake.
By Shem Khoo, Deacon (YCKC Bulletin 18&19 August 2018)