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 the Botoxed 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 a Christian who owns up to their shortcomings will find people willing to listen.
“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 Cor 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 haven’t we played a part?
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? I might as well talk about my imperfections.
This 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 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 that the power of Christ may rest on us (2 Cor 12:9).
Let’s be real in our evangelism. Try using your brutal honesty to shock a non-Christian into being spiritually curious. Tell them where you’d be without Christ—the addiction you’d still be chained too, the porn you’d still be watching, the pain you’d still 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.
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 be enough. 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 un-churched 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).