“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” C.G. Jung
Okay, I’ll confess. I love Halloween candy. When I was a kid, I loved candy corn and peanut butter kisses…today, not so much. For as long as I can remember, my favorite candy bar has been Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Every birthday, Christmas and virtually any other holiday, my wonderful family, knowing my love for them showers me with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in all shapes and sizes. (FYI: November 4th is King Tut Day. Wouldn’t it be nice to honor old Pharaoh by giving Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to me? You may not know that November 13th is World Kindness Day. I’ll kindly take any Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups you send my way.)
The one area Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups fails abysmally in though is marketing. They have the worst commercials. They’re nearly as annoying the Kit Kat ones. Hands down, Snickers has the best candy bar commercials. I’m sure you’ve seen them. An individual is acting uncharacteristically irritable or whiny. Finally, someone hands them a Snickers and they transform into just who we’d expect them to be.
One has some young men playing a pickup game of football. In their midst is Betty White playing poorly and making snide remarks to her teammates. Finally, someone on the sideline tells her to eat a Snickers and we hear the tagline: “You’re not you when you’re hungry. Eat a Snickers.” After eating a Snickers, the individual returns to their authentic self.
Authenticity is a popular buzz word. Isn’t authentic what you’re like most of the time? Wouldn’t authentic be what you’re like for 10, 20 or 100 years? What if you were that way for millennia…wouldn’t that be your authentic self? One of the most wonderful summations of authenticity is said of Jesus in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Jesus is authentic. He hasn’t changed and never will. Did you know though that one day soon, every believer will be authentic and you don’t need a Snickers bar?
Last Sunday we studied Luke 9:27-36. Remember, Moses and Elijah met with Jesus in the Transfiguration. Moses had been dead 1,500 years. Elijah was whisked away alive in a chariot of fire 800 years before. When they met with Jesus on the mount, they were authentic. Neither of them were ever going to change. Moses no longer struggled with anger management. Elijah no longer battled depression. They were in their glorified state.
Two of the most encouraging verses in Scripture for me as I deal with this earth suit and seek to be authentic are Romans 8:29-30: “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” What those verses simply mean is that in God’s mind because He’s eternal and already living in the future – every believer is already in their glorified state. They are authentically perfect and glorified. In other words, our perfect, glorified state is who we really are. So if you’re a believer, your glorified state is who you really are and it can never be improved on.
As a child of God, I want to more authentic now in anticipation of the authentic I’ll ultimately and eternally be. Becoming authentic simply means I’m more and more like Jesus. It’s spiritual maturity. It’s not instant or automatic; it’s a gradual, progressive development. Referring to this process, Ephesians 4:13 says, “this will continue until we are…mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like Him” (CEV). Three vital commitments contribute to us being more authentic today.
Authentic Christians consistently spend time with Jesus. The most precious story of all time is how Jesus loved us and came into the world to die for our sins so we could be forgiven and have a relationship with Him forever. The Bible is God’s love letter to us. As we read the Bible, we must depend on the Holy Spirit to teach us. Every time we open God’s Word, we should pause and ask the Spirit to teach us God’s truth and make us more like Jesus. Sadly, too few Christians actually read their Bibles. Please read your Bible regularly. Not only does it change your relationship with God, it will change your relationship with everyone else.
Authentic Christians faithfully attend church. There aren’t a lot of things I’d die for. Yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus loved His Church so much He died for her. If you love Jesus, you love what He loves. We’re deluded if we tell ourselves we love Jesus and don’t love His Church. It’s like someone saying, “I love you but can’t stand your son.” It just doesn’t work. God has designed worship and church attendance to help us grow. We sing, pray, and listen to God’s Word together, not alone.
Most believers have no idea of how frequently they miss church. Look back over the past three months and note how often you missed. It may shock you. If you evaluated it on a percentage scale, comparing it to how often you exercise, go to work or school, you’d know how much that low percentage hurts you. And it’s much more than just attending. It’s being engaged. It’s coming prepared and letting the Spirit work in your heart.
Authentic Christians value being part of a small group. If you were invited to a weekly group and meeting with them guaranteed you’d increase your income 10%, most would join. The eternal benefits of being in a small group are greater than a 10% income increase. Jesus first chose a small group, the disciples. God has designed us for community. It’s hard to have community other than a small group. They’re crucial to your spiritual growth and authenticity. Personal growth and discovery happens best in a small group. You learn, ask questions, involve yourself in the lives of others, and generally make yourself vulnerable with others who are doing the same. You develop deeper friendships. When people really know you, your life becomes more transparent. There are opportunities to discuss life’s difficult issues with others who hold a biblical worldview. Lives are sharpened and spiritual growth is encouraged. Authenticity happens.
Too many Christians are often carnal because they’re spiritually hungry. They’re not authentic. It’s a lot like Snickers…“You’re not you when you’re spiritually hungry. You must consistently spend time with Jesus, faithfully attend church, and be part of a small group.”
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.