Let’s Get Real

One of the words people from my generation love to embrace is authentic. As in “I’m not fake. I tell it like it is. I don’t wear a mask. I’m real.” We sing it from the rooftops. No faking it. If I feel that way, I’m saying it. In fact, “I’m just sayin'” is a tag line we created as a bookend to end many a verbal commentary on someones outfit, opinion or life. I believe this desire to live authentically originated as a reaction to the “Beaver Cleaver” version of life many of us grew up feeling we should project to the world, when behind closed doors our family was anything but. But like all reactions, this motto of “Be Real” often times goes to an extreme that becomes as destructive as it’s counterpart.

The solution is found in scripture and is very clear. We are instructed to “speak the truth in love” in Ephesians 5:15.  (Knowing truth is of utmost importance, because before I can express reality I need to know I’m grounded in it myself.  Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” so a relationship with Him is the first place to go to begin to understand what reality is.) That is the boundary given to create a safe way to both be real and accept others’ realness. If I speak the truth in arrogance, hate, self-righteousness, carelessness or apathy I am not within the realm of God’s will. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul goes as far as to say that without love, my words have as much meaning as an annoying clanging gong. Kind of like when you go to a restaurant that makes all the employee’s come out to sing for a customer’s birthday, but to quiet the joint they bang a gong really loudly. We have a Chinese restaurant we go to that does this. I try to avoid going if at all possible. 

God always gets to the heart of the matter doesn’t He? He created us to be real, and have a real relationship with Him. No hiding, no faking- just broken me coming to Him accepting His love and being transformed by it. From that place of transformational, extravagant love we receive, we can then offer a new reality to others. I can choose to be concerned about their well-being, since my deepest needs have already been met. I can choose to be patient and kind in my words and actions, since God has been so patient and kind toward me. I can express truth, even if it’s painful to others, with the lens of love in place. Without that, I may be simply be a lot of white noise at best. At worst, I may be part of the brokenness another human has to live through. The truth may create a wound, but the love comes to heal it. Jesus’ death on the cross tells me I am more sinful than I ever knew. (ouch) But it also tells me I am more loved than I ever dared hope. The truth, in love.

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