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Summary: The importance of being real as means of creating ’value,’ and building credibility

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In his book, "Growing Deep in the Christian Life" Chuck Swindoll tells about a man who when into a fast food place and ordered a couple of chicken dinners. Somehow the person who waited on him grabbed the wrong bag for the order and when the guy got to his picnic and pulled out the dinners, he found $800 in the bottom of the bag. He drove back to the restaurant to return their money. The manager was so appreciative of the man’s honesty he said, "Let me call the newspaper. I’d like to get them to take a picture of you and your wife, and let everybody know what an honest couple look like." The man quickly refused and leaned close to the manager to whisper, "You don’t want to do that. This woman isn’t my wife. She’s married to somebody else!" A truly honest man would have been just as concerned about stealing the affection of another man’s wife as he was about taking money that wasn’t his.

But before we judge his hypocrisy too harshly, let’s look at ourselves. We’re all, to one degree or another, that kind of mixture of right and wrong, aren’t we? I’m not sure I’d want a camera crew following me around all day, everyday! Despite my best intentions, there would be moments that I would prefer to keep from being shared with the whole world because the gap between my ideals as a Christian and my actions would be apparent. That said, I aspire to authenticity, to being real, living the kind of life that needs no cover, that needs no excuses. How about you?

I am a big fan of authentic!

Why?

Authenticity creates value!

(Show Patriot jersey) The friends who gave this to me could have spent less money on an imitation, but they went for the authentic.

Authentic is costly. When I bought Bev her engagement ring so very long ago, I could have got a much bigger stone IF I had been willing to settle for a zirconia - a fake diamond. Most people would never have known the difference, but I always would have known that I bought an imitation and not the real thing. I bought her the best, little diamond I could afford at the time, and the emphasis is on ’little!’

Authenticity creates trust.

Integrity, that is a unity of person, is a basic quality of an authentic person. In our complex world finding a person who is the same - at home, at work, and at church is rare. Our former President is notorious for his ability to compartmentalize his life, in other words to live admirably in one area while being a low life in another! He was a man who I believe truly cared for the needy in our nation, but at the same time was capable of exploiting a young female intern in the White House for his own selfish pleasure. When his infidelity was revealed, it made us wonder what was real about the man, didn’t it? Politics aside, we just couldn’t be sure if we were seeing a carefully crafted public image or a real expression of Bill Clinton. But Clinton is not the first nor the last American politician to create a public image that served his own purposes of concealing a part of himself he did not want us to see.

Image replaces authenticity.

We live in a culture that is focused a great deal on ’image,’ on external appearances, don’t we? We want to wear the right fashion, drive the right car, send our kids to the right schools, to look good... for looking good is, in the minds of most people, no different from actually being good!

The challenge I’d like to present to you today is a call

to live counter-culturally,

to become a person who strives to be authentic,

to be the ’real deal.’

Text- Matthew 6:1-8; 16-18

The Message says, "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it!"

The number one criticism of Christians, both fairly and unfairly, involves HYPOCRISY - the very opposite of AUTHENTICITY.

This results when we fail to live up to what we profess and won’t admit it. I don’t think most people expect Christians to live without mistakes or even inconsistencies. We are, after all, working out the implications of what we are taught by Jesus all the time. The accusation of hypocrisy arises when our pride stops us from admitting our sins and our mistakes. Believer, if we want the value and trust that comes from authenticity, then when our rhetoric is unmatched by the reality of our day to day actions, we must admit our inconsistency and commit ourselves to closing the gap!

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