October 30, 2017
The age of e-mail, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook has brought about a new way to embarrass one’s self by what is said or posted online or on social media. Sending a message to an unintended recipient or sending a message in which your autotype completely changed a word you typed into one which completely changed the meaning of your message, can really get you in trouble quickly.
For young people, communicating to others electronically is a natural daily function, but there are rules to follow. One of the highest values held by the current generation is “being yourself.” They are turned off toward people who are fake and by people who act differently depending on who they are around, especially online. In short, being transparent is important to this generation. The most common reason for teen friendships to be destroyed is fast becoming things that are said to each other online, whether or not they are intended or even unintended messages. Young people do not tolerate a friend who posts messages or photos which embarrasses them or which falsely represents who they are or how they feel.
Similarly, in our Christian lives we cannot be fake and hypocritical either, rather we need to be real and transparent. In our Christian walk being real means facing what God’s Word says about us, and admitting that we need His hand on our lives every day or we will fail. It means being real about the problems in our own life which have come because we have disobeyed God’s Word or chosen wrong actions. If we are serious about being “real” in our Christian walk, we need not look any further than God’s Word to find out what it takes to live a “real” Christian life.
We have to be willing to be holy. In today’s world where authenticity is a valued characteristic, most people don’t want to called holy or holier than thou, but in the Bible when we are told to be holy, it is not a term for a “goodie, goodie,” rather holy means set apart, or as believers being set apart to serve Him. 1 Peter 1:14-16 “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
We also need to be loving. Peter writes in I Peter 1:22 “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” The word sincere in this verse is actually translated from the Greek word anupokritos which means unfeigned or non-hypocritical, and is the word from which we get the English word hypocrite. He was teaching the church that our love for each other should be sincere and free from hypocrisy. In other words, we must love people who are easy to love, and people who are not easy to love. Anything less is insincere, or fake.
If we are to live an authentic life in front of a skeptical generation toward our Christianity we must also be mature. I Peter 2:1-3 says, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” All of us who are parents or who have worked around students know how difficult it is fake them out. If we are insincere in our Christian faith and are only talking about it with our lips, but our walk doesn’t back it up, our children and our students are the first to know. We can never stop growing and maturing in our Christian walk.
Maybe the most important characteristic we must have in being real, is living honorably. Many times Christians act like this world is all there is and buy into the world’s lie that we have to get everything out of this life that we can. In doing so, Christians look so much like the world that there is no perceivable difference. Peter reminds us that being real as Christians is to understand that we don’t belong here anymore. I Peter 2:11-12 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
A good motto for us to live by each day is that we should practice what we preach. Anything less invites accusations of hypocrisy and brings shame to the cause of Christ. The result of “real” living may be that we will be able to lead those who hate us and criticize us to know Jesus the way we do.