Friday, November 21, 2008

Living Authentically

I read a thought provoking article this week entitled The Culture War is Over: Thank God! Author Jud White made a challenging statement--we have lost the culture war and maybe it's a good thing. A good thing? White's premise is it's time to focus on living as Christ-followers in place of just labeling ourselves Christian.

The buzz word now-a-days is authenticity, but as White explains it's all about God's truth in our lives. How do you view God's truth? Are we teaching, sharing, extending it with love to unbelievers? George Barna in his book UnChristian shares shocking statistics that leave modern day Christianity looking less appealing than used car salesmen.

George Barna's results reveal that Christians have cheapened Christianity to church membership, denominational loyalty, and superficial Christianity. Just a tad harsh I think. Or, is it?

It would be easier to declare all this hog-wash if it wasn't that Barna's findings are based on research with those who do not call themselves Christian. That's right, unbelievers think of us in this light. Sobering statistics show that we are effectively losing the 18 to 41 age groups because of our lack of authenticity/truth.

We can blame it on culture. We can blame it on humanism. We can blame it on the mega church. We can even blame it on flaky believers reducing the Word to a feel good gospel that does not recognize the truth of hell. The fact is this is a sign of our times. Our enemy -- the Devil, Lucifer, Satan, angel of light, wolf in sheep's clothing, serpent, great deceiver--however you choose to address our adversary has been hard at work within our society. It's easier to blame losing the culture war on something or someone than to face the truth -- our authenticity before the world.

Living a life of authenticity begins with me. My life will not be judged according to what my society or culture thought was truth. I will face God based on the truth I know, share, and live according to God's Word. It comes down to me, God, and a relationship with Truth--Jesus Christ.

My late pastor, John Colbaugh, a gifted storyteller, had a way of taking a simple illustration and bringing it to life in light of God's Word. Here is one of his stories that illustrates our responsibility:

When we get to the end of our days and we're in line to stand before God we'll each be holding a paper bag. Some bags will be filled to overflowing, others will hold a few items. Still others will be empty. What do you want your bag to be-- filled or empty? I want my bag to be empty--completely empty. I want to stand in line with it thrown over my shoulder. When I stand before God I want to say here's my empty bag--I used every last gift and talent for You. I want to know that I held nothing back--I lived fully in Christ.

Are you living fully in Christ? Are you using all you have for the glory of God? Authentic Christians live a life focused on 'living dead to self, alive in Christ.' Our mission is to serve those in need -- reaching out and sharing the gospel one lost soul at a time. Saying the culture war is lost is not a bad thing. It means just like White said that we must put our focus on the true priority--living out the Gospel. As our world changes we need to recall Paul's words to the Philippians, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Philippians 1:27)

Is the world ready for this? I think so. A few months back my church did something unheard of in today's modern church. They went street witnessing. Nothing fancy, no door prizes or free food. No music, puppets, or street drama. Just a small group (15 to 30) for five days spreading out across town. Two Muslim young men were saved at an outlet mall, a man working on a car asked Jesus into his heart after a 14 year-old shared the gospel. A 90 year-old woman prayed the sinner's prayer for the first time in her life. Not one person, not two, but over 500 men, women, boys, and girls were saved in a six day period in August by just sharing the gospel. And, they were all saved outside the church walls.

It's past time to put away masks and living with one foot in the world. We must move past the thinking that says church work is within the walls of the church on selected days of the week. The world recognizes a fake and we should not fool ourselves. It really doesn't take a research group to tell us that we need to get back to basics. Unbelievers need to meet a Savior who has all the answers. We know Him. The culture war to me was lost when we began trying to become more like the world than just live out our lives as testimony. Unbelievers need to see a difference in our lives--in my life.

I'd like to encourage everyone to join me today in asking the Lord to reveal weakness and bring strength and truth to those areas. When I begin to look honestly at my own heart and submit to the Lord and the truth of His Word, then unbelievers will see the light in my life. It will not be a culture war but a revival of God's love. A revolution!

What is in your bag? What has the Lord gave you to share authentically with unbelievers and influence a culture / nation / world for Christ? When we share, teach, preach, and live the truth we become authentic. It's time to empty our bags and live alive in Christ!

Following is a simple video on building relationships and living out our faith.

1 comment:

Jo said...

Great post! God has been working in my heart lately, showing me just how much of a modern Christian I've been lately...and unfortunately, that's not a good thing. Thanks for the thought-provoking insights and sharing your experiences.

God is SO good and SO faithful!

Jo

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