I love British films and it’s not just because of the humor. It’s refreshing to see actors with less-than-perfect physiques and smiles that aren’t blindingly white. It makes the stories they tell so much more relatable.

It’s not just me. People are searching for authenticity. They want to see the scars and the wrinkles, not a façade. If we give not-yet-Christians the impression that we have it all together, we’ll often get met with suspicion. The Ned Flanders Christian and the Leave-it-to-Beaver family convince few, but Christians who own up to their shortcomings will find people willing to listen to them.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV)

Plastic Christianity is a roadblock to evangelism. Ask ten strangers what they think of Christians and you’ll probably hear words like “hypocritical” or “judgmental.” Christians are often considered great fakers.

Sure, it’s an unfair stereotype. We could blame it on disgraced televangelists or overly opinionated Christians swinging Bible verses like machetes. But don’t we all contribute to it?

I fear we’re often lights in this world that expose others’ flaws and not our own. If I’m the one holding the light, shouldn’t I be the most exposed of all? Shouldn’t I admit my imperfection?

People’s hunger for authenticity can be a launching pad for sharing the Gospel. The grace of God frees us to be authentic. We can stop pretending to be better than we truly are when we realize that God treasures us despite our sins. When his opinion is all that matters, there’s no reason to hide and no need to impress. Like the Apostle Paul, we too can boast in our weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest on us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Let’s be real in our evangelism. Try using brutal honesty about yourself to shock non-Christians into being spiritually curious. Tell them where you are truly at in your walk with God — the addiction you’re still struggling with, the porn you still watch, the pain you carry, the person you’re learning to forgive, your last business flop, your struggles as a parent or spouse. You get the idea. Share how God’s grace is sufficient and how he’s helping you despite your failures.

You haven’t arrived yet. None of us have. But if you know Christ, you’re farther along on the journey and your authenticity can draw seekers to God’s grace. People are looking for a safe place to be themselves and there’s no place safer than in the arms of Jesus. Let’s show the world what it feels like to be wrapped in his love. Try one of these action steps.

1. Pray for Authenticity

Maybe you find it hard to reveal the true you. Spend some time meditating on how God accepts you just the way you are (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 5:1; 8:38-39). Pray that his opinion of you would become the only one that matters. Ask God for an opportunity to be more authentic.

2. Begin Small

Try to work one personal struggle into your next conversation with a not-yet-Christian. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering; just keep it real. For example, while eating lunch with some unchurched people, I talked openly about going to marriage counseling. They thought that was a great idea and it led to a deep conversation about being aware of the baggage we bring into a relationship.

3. Shock Them Hard

The next time you hear someone’s story of broken relationships or addiction, be brutally honest about something that’s been painful in your life. We’ve all been hurt. Tell your story and then steer the conversation toward how God’s grace rescued you (or is presently showing you the way out).

updated August 2019