My Dad loved history and he was a great storyteller. But he never (as in never) spoke about his childhood, and he wouldn’t explain why my siblings and I didn’t spend time with, or even have a relationship with our grandparents (his parents).
But as the years passed, we came to learn of how his mother, an active and respected member of a local church, behaved very differently at home, with my dad, an only child, often at the receiving end of her dissatisfaction and frustration.
This explained why my dad would not allow us to attend church, even with friends. It also explained why when I finally did attend church at the age of 19 and gave my life to Jesus, he laughed, believing I had made a huge mistake.
For as much as he was hurt and disappointed by his mother, ultimately my dad felt let down by God. Having turned down an opportunity to play football for Wales to fulfil his mother’s dream of him becoming an altar boy, my dad was shown the door at the age of 16, forced to look for work to make his own way in life.
My dad’s story was my first encounter with the notion of authentic Christianity and the reason why I believe it is an important topic for discussion.
So, what does it mean to live an authentic Christian life?
For me, it is not about a theological or philosophical debate. It simply means that I am who I appear to be. Without any pretence. Whether at home, at work or at a church meeting.
Being “real”, however, doesn’t mean that I freely air all my “dirty washing”, all the time for everyone to see. What it means is that I don’t portray one version of myself in church on Sunday and another version during the week. When people encounter me, they must be able to see Jesus in me (Matthew 7:16), no matter the day of the week or the setting.
I certainly don’t have it all together and I often question what God is doing in my life, in the lives of those around me, as well as in the world. While I might not always understand what He is doing, I always make the decision to trust Him. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later but eventually.
In walking out my salvation daily, I find it important to read the Word of God consistently. I also place a high value on the wisdom and counsel of other trusted believers. Quite honestly, I don’t see how it would be possible for me to live authentically as a Christian or be a “real” Christian without spending time in God’s Word or being with other like-minded people. The Word shows me how to live; others hold me accountable to what the Word says.
If we are to be used of God and make a difference in the world we live in, we need to be “real” – real with ourselves and with God, about who we are and the personal challenges we face. Only then can we be real with others and live an authentic Christian life.
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