Summary: Seekers are looking for something that is real. The Christians in our congregations needs to learn to be authentic as we live the Christian life.
A. There’s a story told of a woman who pulled up to a red light behind another car.
1. The driver of the car in front of her was talking on his cell phone, and shuffling through some papers on the seat beside him.
2. The light turned green, but the man didn’t notice.
3. The woman began pounding on her steering wheel, honking her horn and yelling at the man to move. The man still didn’t move.
4. The light turned yellow. The woman blew the car’s horn repeatedly, as she yelled and screamed at the man.
5. The man finally noticed the commotion. He looked up, saw the yellow light, and accelerated through the intersection just as the light turned red.
6. The woman was beside herself, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection.
7. As she was still in mid-rant she heard a tap on her window and looked into the face of a very serious looking policeman.
8. The policeman told her to shut off her engine and step out of the car. The red-faced woman obeyed, speechless at what was happening.
9. The policeman took the woman to the police station where she was placed in a cell.
10. After a couple of hours of sitting in the cell, the woman was brought out to the front of the station where the original officer was waiting with her personal effects.
11. The policeman handed her the bag containing her things, and said, "I’m really sorry for this mistake. But you see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn and screaming and cursing. Then I noticed the *Choose Life* license plate holder, the *Follow Me to Sunday School* bumper sticker, and the chrome plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally I assumed that you had stolen the car. But I was wrong, have a blessed day!"
B. For years, popular television advertising has told us that: “IMAGE IS EVERYTHING.”
1 But the motto of many sincere truth seekers is: “SUBSTANCE IS EVERYTHING.”
2 And these people have the uncanny ability to sniff out what is real and what isn’t.
C. Lee Strobel was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune who began attending a church in the early ‘80s in an effort to appease his newly converted wife.
1. In Strobel’s insightful book, “Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary,” Lee recalls: “When I walked into church as a skeptical unbeliever, my ‘hypocrisy antenna’ was scanning the place for signs that people were just playing church. In fact, I was aggressively on the lookout for phoniness, opportunism, or deception, because I felt that if I could find an excuse for rejecting the church on grounds of hypocrisy, I could feel free to reject Christianity as well.”
2. So, there we have it straight from a skeptic. He was looking for something real; something authentic.
3. Joe Aldrich, author of the book, Life-Style Evangelism puts it like this: “Christians are to be good news before they share the good news.”
4. That is not a perfect statement, but it does have an important truth in it.
5. If we want to be the kind of high-impact, salty Christians that Jesus said we need to be, then we are going to have to start by making certain that the way we are living backs up the words we are speaking.
6. That’s not to say that we are perfect, because we never will be, but we are to be striving for perfection. And as we will see in a minute, we need to own up to our imperfection.
D. Jesus knew the importance of perceptions.
1. That’s why he gave us such clear instructions about being salt and light.
2. His goal was that people would “see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16)
3. What I hope for us as individuals and collectively as a church, is that as people observe us their reactions will be positive.
4. We don’t want their impression of us to be “those Christians are uptight, rigid, judgmental, uncompassionate and isolated people.”
5. We would like their impression of us to be “those Christians are people with integrity, moral courage, they are compassionate, loving, kind, helpful and reliable.”
6. So, how must we live so that they will have the one impression and not the other?
7. Over the next few sermons, I want us to focus on the power of authenticity, compassion and sacrifice.
8. All these things leave the kind of impression that we want to leave. All of them can, and hopefully will, cause people to praise our Father in heaven.
E. So, let’s talk about the attractiveness of authenticity.
1. If asked what qualities we see in others that bothers us the most, toping many of our lists would be dishonesty or inauthenticity.