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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Authentic Community


19 Take your stand with God's loyal community and live, 
   or chase after phantoms of evil and die. 
(Proverbs 11:19 The Message)

This past week our Pastor presented three key components of a life that is "growing" - learning from our Life Experiences, Applying God's Word into our lives, and being involved in Authentic Community.  Today, I'd like to build upon the idea of Authentic Community.  As we think about those that we "stand" with on a daily basis, we have to examine the "value" of those relationships in comparison to the other two key components.  In other words, I think that when our associations are regularly into the Word of God and involved in applying that direction to their life experiences, they are a pretty solid group to "stand" with!  When this is not the priority, it may be like we are chasing after phantoms of evil that will result in life experiences we'd rather avoid and no real authenticity because we feel like we must cover up our wrong life choices.

At Bible Study group this week, one of the things we really began to think a little harder about was the authenticity of our associations.  You know me, I had to come home to look that word up!  Simply put, it means that we are the "genuine article!  What we may not realize is that there are expanded definitions to this idea of being "authentic" that we should probably not gloss over.

- The first is the idea of having the origin accepted by unquestionable evidence.  This simply means that our authenticity cannot be called into question because there is so much proof that we are being "real".  There is no contradiction in the evidence that is produced by our life experiences.  My elders would say this is "walking the talk and talking the walk".  What we say matches what we do and vice-versa.

- The second is the idea of being reliable and trustworthy.  When you are genuine in your life, there is a reliability that is produced and that makes it easier for trust to be developed between you and others.  The reliability of our life experiences is only as good as the reliability of our embracing the Word as our direction.  The authenticity of our lives is only as good as the freedom we feel to be "real" in our lives.  

- The last is the idea of being free of falseness or pretense.  I guess this is the hardest for some of us because our life experiences do not always go the way we had hoped.  When they don't, we often don't want to own up to the outcomes of those experiences - yep, sin produces outcomes and those may not always be the easiest to own up to!  Authenticity is the ability of being free from the shame of showing what you are learning from your life experiences.

So, today as you read these words, I want you to consider your authenticity.  Are you giving unquestionable evidence that what you say you are is really what you are when no one is around to see your behavior and choices?  Are you genuine, or do you find that you "cloak" your failures behind some form of mask?  You know, the only time we really begin to grow is when we take those masks off and begin to live out the truth of our choices.  The truth sets us free and opens us to healing.

What are you running toward?  Is it genuine, authentic community?  Or is it some phantom that plagues us in the night?  Oftentimes, the direction we "run" is determined by the runners we choose to run the race with!