Authenticity. It is the buzzword for the emerging generation. It is the ideal attitude and demeanor of every sought-after pastor. Indeed, it is one of the three core values for my own existence (the other two being accountability and availability). Authenticity, genuineness, being real, being raw—all of these are the currency of our culture.
But being real without providing biblical resolution to those broken things that amplify our authenticity is a farce, and tends toward a cheap excuse to justify our depravity without the hard scrutiny of (real) righteousness. Anymore it is as if one can declare “I’m authentic” so as to nurture sin or shame or mediocrity. This is the new moral code of our society.
David was real. This man after God’s own heart was known as much for his incredible failings as he was his successes. But the thing that sets him apart from a whole host of supposedly genuine religious leaders is that he transformed. “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end,” he would write in Psalm 119:112. And he did do this. He sought God’s face, worked to have God’s Law work through him. He, despite his trials, finished well.
Moses was real. This man who was the most humble one ever (see Numbers 12:3) was also a compulsive personality who had anger issues and a bit of a defensive side to him. But in the end he yielded himself to God, willingly entering whatever crucible was available at the time so that the Hebrews could be shown mercy and he himself could become a better man; one fit, if you will, to one day stand and encourage Jesus on Mount Hermon (cp. Mark 9:4)
Paul was real. This man who changed the world with his tenacious commitment to the gospel was a man with dark moments who, because of his history as a Pharisaical butcher with a body wrecked over time, found himself occasionally having to validate himself before the eyes of men. But he would not be held back, would not remain filled with self-pity. “I have suffered the loss of all things,” he writes in Philippians 3:8, “and count them as rubbish, in order that I many gain Christ. . . .” He became something different.
And I desire to be real. And I am also learning to match my thirst for authenticity with actual transformation; where real meets resolution. Otherwise the idea of being real is just an end in itself, something more about me appealing to you so I can fit into the new moral code, rather than allowing Christ and his transforming power to appeal to you. Being real without resolution, being transparent without transformation, being authentic without being made new, is, well, nothing.