Summary: Four reasons authenticity with other Christians is absolutely essential to the spiritual life.
Barb’s life is a mess. Her drinking problem is out of control, and her husband Ken refuses to cover for her anymore. Everyone around her sees Barb’s problem, but they all pretend like everything’s just fine, a classic case of denial. Every Sunday Barb and her family dress in their Sunday best and go to church as the perfect family. Everyone at church looks at Barb and her family as the model family...they look so…perfect.
Sitting in the row behind Barb at church each Sunday morning is Joe. Everyone likes Joe, especially all the guys, because he’s a man’s man. Joe played football in college for a PAC 10 school, and he’s filled with stories of athletic conquest. But when Joe’s all alone his heart is filled with emptiness because of his inability to sustain long term relationships. His marriage only lasted six months, and over the years he’s driven away everyone close to him with his sort fuse. But that Sunday when a friend asks Joe how things are going he quickly says, "Great…never been better."
Joe and Barb have both learned that church is a place for plastic people, a place for perfect people. So Barb’s become Barbie, complete with her husband Ken and her perfect plastic children. And Joe’s become G. I. Joe, a plastic action hero everyone admires but no one really knows. But inside Barb and Joe are dying, because they’re not made of plastic.
Churches throughout our culture today are filled with Barbies and Joes. We’ve learned that image is everything, that what counts is how you look, the impression you make. So we in the Christian community have perfected the fine art of faking it. In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace Christian author Phillip Yancey, talks about meeting a prostitute on the streets and sharing the message of Christ with her. When Yancey gently suggested that she might seek out a church, she looked at him and said, "Why would I want to do that? I already feel awful enough about my life?" In her mind, walking into a room full of perfect Barbie dolls and G. I. Joe action figures would only accentuate her own failures and inadequacies.
If being part of the Christian community is merely putting on a good front, pretending to be something we’re not, then we might as well sleep in. Last week we started a new 12 week series through the New Testament book of 1 John called A ROADMAP FOR THE JOURNEY. The book of 1 John was a letter written by the apostle John because of his concern that the Christians in Asia Minor were losing their way in the spiritual journey. John knew that the spiritual life was a difficult journey filled with danger, so he wrote his letter to help Christians navigate the unexpected twists and turns in the road. Last week we looked at "Joy In The Journey," and how we find authentic joy in our spiritual journey when we build it on the right foundation, share it with the right companions, draw truth from the right source, and focus on the right goal.
Today we’re going to look at God’s call to authenticity. When God’s people cease to respond to God’s call to authenticity, the church turns into a social club. In fact, many followers of Christ today have given up on the Christian church because of the lack of authenticity, as one person told me, "I find more honesty in one Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting than in an entire year going to church."