One of the great themes of us emerging folks is authenticity. The inability to be the persons that we were created to be is one of the great frustrations for persons arising from the postmodern bog. Steve Taylor prophetically made us aware of this reality back in the 1980’s with his satirical song, “I Want To Be A Clone.” Certainly, the evangelical, fundamentalist church that I grew up in attempted to mold us into a particular image of faith, an image that I never fit, which eventually led me into the tradition that I now reside in. As we react to the inauthenticity of American Christian practice that has gone before (what my wife called in a sermon “toxic Christian niceness”), those of us who are emerging into a new thing lift up authenticity as one of the banners upon which Christian community is built.
Certainly we must be the folks that God created us to be. To be otherwise is to be unfaithful to the creator.
Paul, the great and sometimes strange apostle, called us to be faithful to our calling by God in his letter to the church at Ephesus. I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called…Paul wrote.
But Paul doesn’t stop with the call to be authentic. He recognizes that honesty and telling the truth must always come in a context of loving respect for the other. With all humility, Paul writes, with gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Paul goes on to talk about “speaking the truth in love,” understanding that the well being of the Body of Christ is dependent on truth telling, but always wrapped in the mantle of love.
During the past few weeks, I have struggled with this reality. I have seen prophets who honestly may be speaking the word of the Lord. Yet, if I read Paul correctly, prophetic speech does not disregard the call to love. Even God (as presented by the prophets) never cuts off God’s love and compassion for the unfaithful.
May we be authentic to who God is calling us to be. May we be prophetic, speaking God’s truth in a world that seems cannot see him/her. But may we also speak this truth in love, with humility, with gentleness, and with patience. May we avoid demonizing the other, recognizing that we too are human, sinful, with our warts and scars.
Then, we will be truly faithful to who God has called us to be.