Authenticity. Hmmm. I feel like I’ve heard this word too often over the past few years, if not constantly over the past few months. ‘Striving to be more authentic’ made it to the top of my list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2015, but then I had to stop myself. What does it even mean? What does ‘striving to be more authentic’ even look like? In light of being Christians in 2015, is authenticity important? And why?
To begin my search I turned to the first place that seemed logical; the Oxford Dictionary. It defines ‘authenticity’ as ‘the quality of being authentic’. Great start, that’s really helpful. It then defines ‘authentic’ as ‘of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine’. When reading that I immediately looked to my own, ‘human’ desires. I want to be like everybody else, wear clothes that are ‘in’, I want to be accepted. In that way I’m just a copy of everyone else, I’m the same. The opposite of authentic.
I struggled with this for a lot of last year; I don’t drink coffee or have the patience to spend hours scouring second hand shops looking for the perfect vintage dress. Does that make me not as authentic as anybody else? By the world’s standards, maybe.
But as a Christian, authenticity isn’t about how we look, the way we present ourselves to the outside world or the Instagram filter we use. It’s about being open and honest in our relationships with each other and with God. It’s about speaking up when we are struggling, with anything from money to family relationships, and listening when others are. It is talking about the difficult stuff; money, pornography, loneliness. It’s about getting alongside people rather than preaching from a pulpit. It’s about investing in deep relationships.
It’s about voicing our struggles in our relationships with our Creator, and praying through life as a community. It’s about leaning on God through the good and bad, praising Him through it all. That’s why being authentic is not just important, but essential for great church community as well as our relationships with God and each other.
Well, that’s what I think anyway.
– Eleanor Calder