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Another take on the mask

16 Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results. 19 Dear brothers, if anyone has slipped away from God and no longer trusts the Lord and someone helps him understand the Truth again, 20 that person who brings him back to God will have saved a wandering soul from death, bringing about the forgiveness of his many sins. (James 5:16, 19-20 TLB)

Our pastor spoke about authenticity recently, another in his series about being established in our walk with God. As he said many times in the sermon, we finally come to the place of experiencing God's tremendous love for us once we are courageous enough to be the 'real deal' with God and others. There was a point in the sermon where he told us how hard it was for him to develop this authenticity in his own life. Now, you might think it wouldn't be a struggle for a pastor to be 'real', but the truth of the matter is that even pastor's are human! Humans have a hard time sometimes when it comes to not 'hiding' what we really feel, how we really have been behaving, or what our real struggles might just be at that moment. Pride, and sometimes shame, keeps us from being authentic with each other.

At one point, he shared a time when he was really struggling in his life and this is where he established a solid relationship with another guy who was also a Christian in order to really get his life back on track. He put himself in a place of 'accountability' in order to not further bury his real issues and concerns in that season of his life. Let me be the first to admit that this was a pretty bold and brave step to take. Why? It is much easier to bury stuff, putting up a front, than it is to be genuine and bear it for others to see. I think there is this misconception in life that others will judge us for our failures and shortcomings, so we don't share them, even though we so much desire for another to actually help us face them head on and deal with them. Maybe this has proven to be true when we bear them to the wrong individual, but when we get established in a relationship with another committed to helping us grow - someone also walking out this day-to-day life with Christ - we have the opportunity to be real.

Trust is a big part of authenticity - trusting that others will not take what they discover about us and put it out there for the whole world to see. After all, we might be willing to share it with another who will pray for us, give us wisdom as to how they have dealt with the issue themselves, or even just walk with us in discovery of the truth together, but we don't want the entire world to know! We want accountability, but not publicity! Yet, even in the closest of relationships, we sometimes hold back bits and pieces of our 'real self' because we still don't want to let anyone else know that 'side' of us. It is that 'side' of us that needs the healing, though, so not being will to allow discovery of it will significantly impact us coming to know God's love as we should on that 'side' of our lives.

Love requires authenticity - being the real us. We are the closest to God's heart when we are the real us. If there is anything I have learned about authenticity over the years it would have to be that all of life cannot be a masquerade party. The mask has to come off some time. If it doesn't, we will never really discover the way God's love can and will minister to that area of our life where we have been struggling the hardest and the longest to 'live under cover'. Even the most skilled 'cover taker' cannot remain concealed forever. Pride being what it is, we might attempt to mask the 'real us', but that only keeps us from really experiencing the tremendous healing of God's love. Just sayin!

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