|Photo: Mehmet Dilsiz|
Authenticity. I find myself searching for it lately. Seeking it in people. Craving it in my entertainment and personal interactions. Yesterday, I heard myself say that I would rather forgive a person of a million indiscretions than to have that person pretend their mistakes away, and I really would. I like people who dare to be real, even when real is ugly. I don’t like it when people act perfect, when they take pains to appear different than they really are.
This might explain why I’ve always had a problem accepting Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he became “all things to all men.” I read that and cringe; what about being your true self, I want to scream. I know that Paul was not suggesting that we be fraudulent or deceitful; he’s obviously speaking of the importance of tailoring one’s message to the audience, of being relevant to the culture you are serving. But the phrasing he uses! Yikes! “Being all things to all people” doesn’t only sound exhausting; it sounds dishonest.
This sentiment doesn’t fit with the Paul that I’ve come to appreciate—the man who is honest about himself and his struggles, who publicly confesses “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do….For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 19). That is real. That I can relate to. I’m not all I want to be, either, and I’m increasingly coming to that place where I don’t mind saying so.
I think that we sometimes don’t admit our shortcomings because we fear the condemnation of others. The problem is that when we pretend to be perfect, we become unapproachable. Like when I entered the spotless home of an acquaintance of mine recently. She is close to my age, also a mother of two young children, also very busy with the demands of life. But her house was immaculate. We chatted pleasantly in her entryway for a moment, but I, thinking of the dirty dishes I’d left piled in the sink that morning and the laundry that perpetually lives under my kids’ beds, immediately realized that she and I likely would never be kindred spirits. I’m sure she is a lovely person, but I immediately sensed that we had very different priorities for life, little if any common ground. I wanted to get out of there as fast as I could.
I wonder if that is a little too like how unchurched people look at us Christians sometimes. We’re so shined up—Jesus might way “whitewashed”—that others feel inadequate and want to run away. How can we tell hurting friends to trust in God in the tough times if we appear to have no rough times ourselves? How can we tell them to lay their cares at His feet if we ourselves seem to have no cares? How can we make them appreciate the brokenness that Christ allowed Himself to enter into if we pretend that we are never broken?
When Paul said that he was all things to all people, he wasn’t saying that we need to be perfect, to be admired by all people, to be the answer to everyone’s problems. Rather, I hear him saying that we need to realize that we are no different from anyone else. Far from encouraging us to be dishonest in our approach, Paul actually says that we can relate to all people if we are open about our struggles and shortcomings; we all have them! God, help me to remove pretense from my repertoire and to be real even when it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable. Amen.
Crystal D. Holloway is editor of the Canadian Union Messenger. This article originally appeared in the (March 2007) issue of the Messenger and is reprinted with permission. All rights reserved © 2016 AnswersForMe.org. Click here for content usage information.
Read more at the source: Keeping It Real
Article excerpt posted on en.intercer.net from Spiritual applications.