The External Evidence: Authenticity
Last week we said that authentic Christianity is motivated by a passion for God¡K That authentic Christianity is motivated by a strong, extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, and desire for God.
Passion is essential¡K it¡¦s a necessary ingredient if we are going to live authentic Christian lives.
Today¡K we are going to look at authenticity specifically.
Authenticity is important to me because it literally changed my life. ¡K I never saw real, authentic Christianity until the summer before I gave my life to Jesus Christ.
Oh¡K I grew up in church¡K I was involved in youth group, but I partied with all the same people I went to church with¡K
„« Friday and Saturday we¡¦d be out partying and everything that goes with it
„« Then Sunday morning we¡¦d be in church
„« That¡¦s what I thought normal Christianity was¡K mainly a Sunday thing.
„« You devoted 3-4 hours to God every Sunday and then lived the rest of the week like those 3-4 hours didn¡¦t matter
Then¡K the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college I went home and to my parent¡¦s new church.
Over the course of the summer I saw that when these people talked about loving God¡K they meant it¡K their actions matched their words¡K they weren¡¦t perfect¡K but they were authentic¡K they showed me that God was real.
That¡¦s what I needed to see¡K And that¡¦s what our culture, our family, and our friends need to see¡K real, authentic followers of Jesus Christ¡K not a bunch of empty words, but people who live what they say they believe.
Let¡¦s look again at the Great Commandment in a different place this time¡K turn with me to Mark 12:30-31:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these."
This evening we are going to look at what it means to love God with all of your soul¡K and all of your strength.
These two phrases give us two different pictures.
„« When we think of soul we often think about something inward¡K we think of some essence of being¡K who we are
„« When we think of strength¡K we think of something outward¡K strength is displayed in action¡K strength is displayed in what we do.
The soul is known while strength is shown¡K These two aspects¡K the inner and the outer are both parts of authenticity.
So what does it mean when Jesus tells us to love God with all of our soul?
In this Scripture¡K ¡§soul¡¨ refers to or inner life¡Xour will, emotions, and disposition. ¡K ¡§soul¡¨ refers to that hidden part of us that makes us who we are and reveals why we do what we do¡K
Loving God with all of our soul means that we have sincerity in our attitudes.
This gets to the very core of who we are¡K God desires truth in our very core¡K
In Psalm 51:6 the psalmist says, ¡§What you¡¦re after is truth from the inside out.¡¨
„« God wants sincerity because He looks at our heart¡K not just our actions
1 Samuel 16:7 ¡§The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
„« When God looks for people he looks for sincerity at the very core.
A person with an authentic, sincere love for God:
1. Wants to please God¡K not man.
In Matthew 6:1 Jesus says, ¡§Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don¡¦t make a performance out of it. It might be a good theater, but the God who made you won¡¦t be applauding.¡¨ (MSG)
An authentic follower of Jesus Christ seeks the approval of God¡K not of man.
Deep down our motive must be to please God¡K not man
Paul gives us an accurate assessment in Galatians 1:10:
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
As followers of Jesus Christ¡K as servants of Christ¡K our motivation has to be pleasing God¡K not man.
A person with an authentic, sincere love for God:
2. Is driven by Who God Is¡K not by what he/she can get from Him.
In John 6, the morning after Jesus fed the 5,000¡K many people come looking for Him. When they find Him they begin to ask Him questions. He responds:
You¡¦ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs¡Xand for free. (John 6:26 MSG)
The only thing these people really wanted was FROM God¡K they weren¡¦t after God¡K they were after what He could give them. ¡K Their only concern was themselves.
As the people begin to go away Jesus turns to His disciples and asks is they want to go away as well. Peter speaks up¡K
Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We¡¦ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:68-69 MSG)
Peter and the disciples wanted and sought God¡K not bread and fish.
A sincere love for God wants the person of God and not the things God can give him. ¡K we seek the giver not the gift.
When we love God with all our soul we will want God and His approval¡K we won¡¦t settle simply for His gifts of the approval of men. ¡K Our desires are not too strong but too weak.
Now that¡¦s the inner part of authenticity¡K what about the outer¡K what does it mean to love God with all our strength?
In contrast to our soul¡Xwhat we are on the inside¡K our strength is what we do¡K our actions¡K our outward expressions that other people can see.
Loving God with all of our strength means that we have integrity in our action. ¡K Integrity points to the idea of wholeness¡K that the outside fully reflects the inside.
John Piper says, ¡§We were made to be prisms refracting the light of God¡¦s glory into all of life.¡¨
As we love God with all of our strength¡K His glory is seen through our lives.
Matthew 5:16 tells us to ¡§Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.¡¨ (NASU)
Authentic Christianity points people to God¡K not to ourselves.
Loving God with all our strength is integrity in action¡K This integrity is seen when¡K
1. We do what we know is right
James 4:17 tells us, ¡§Therefore, to one who knows [the] right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.¡¨ (NASU)
„« Loving God with all our strength means that we do what we know we should do.
„« When we don¡¦t do the right thing we fail to glorify God¡K and we sin.
(The nurses aide who left the man to die in her windshield¡Xgood illustration)
Integrity in action is when you live out what you know is right¡K when your walk matches your talk.
Integrity is action is also when¡K
2. We don¡¦t pretend to be something we¡¦re not
Jesus referred to the religious people of His day as hypocrites because they pretended to be super-godly when they weren¡¦t¡K
In Matthew 23:27-28 He says¡K
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
„« These people looked righteous and godly because of their many acts¡K but Jesus likened them to white washed tombs¡K they looked good on the outside but inside they were dead.
„« Righteous acts don¡¦t make you righteous¡K If the righteous motivation isn¡¦t there then the act is empty.
Authenticity is seen when we are sincere in our attitudes and show integrity in our actions. ¡K We have to be authentic both in motive and action if we are going to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ. ¡K We can¡¦t pretend to be someone we¡¦re not.
Boiled down¡K Authenticity is all about 1 Corinthians 10:31:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Authenticity¡Xsincerity coupled with integrity¡Xdirects all the glory to God in everything we do¡K. Authenticity is living your life for the audience and pleasure of one¡XGod!
So¡K how can you love God with all of your soul and all of your strength? How can you live an authentic life?
1. Be Real ¡K Don¡¦t pretend that you¡¦re someone you¡¦re not.
„« Maybe you¡¦re acting more righteous than you are¡K don¡¦t¡K be yourself¡K we¡¦re all fellow strugglers along the way
„« Maybe you¡¦re hiding your faith from others in order to gain their approval¡K don¡¦t¡K be yourself¡K if they can¡¦t accept you for you then are they really people you want to impress?
„« Stop pretending! God desires sincerity of heart and integrity of action¡K Be honest with God, yourself, and others.
2. Check your motives ¡K Ask God to help you be more sincere in your attitudes.
„« Do you do things for other people¡¦s approval or for God¡¦s?
„« Normally¡K when pleasing God is our motive¡K others won¡¦t have a problem with our performance at work or at home. (They might take offense at our message, but not our mentality)
„« Don¡¦t try to pass mediocre work off on God¡K If we are truly motivated to please God then our best is what we will give¡K we won¡¦t go halfway and say¡K God will be pleased so I¡¦ll just stop now.
„« Motivation to please God doesn¡¦t stop because He¡¦s pleased¡K motivation to please God always seeks to give Him more and more pleasure.
3. Examine your lifestyle ¡K Ask God to help you act with integrity as a Christian.
„« Are you doing anything that isn¡¦t consistent with your faith?
„« What do other people see in your actions¡K hypocrisy or authenticity?
„« Do people see a love for God or a concern for self?
4. Team up ¡K Meet regularly with someone who will help you to walk with sincerity and integrity.
„« We need others in our life that we can be honest with and will help us to walk authentically in our lives
Authenticity is the external evidence of a sincere, passionate love for God lived out in the integrity of our actions.
Authenticity helps people to see that God is real and that He is indeed worthy of glory, honor, and praise.
Let¡¦s ask God to help us be more authentic followers of Him:
I want to thank you that while we were still sinners you died for us¡K you didn¡¦t wait for us to make ourselves better¡K you came for us when we needed the most help.
Lord¡K we need your help again¡K we know that you have died for us to pay for our sins¡K and that you rose again as a testimony to the life you can give us¡K but Father we need you to help us live more authentic lives.
Lord¡K help us to be honest and open about who we are and where we¡¦re at with You.
Jesus¡K give us a deeper and purer passion for You. Help us to live lives that honor you and point people to You and not ourselves.
Lord¡K here we are¡K thank you for taking us¡K make us more and more like you.