Surge of Authenticity
Pastor Terry Inman
Authenticity and accountability are two best practices of our faith. These assets prepare us for a SURGE in our connection with God and each other.
We would all like a supernatural gush or a rush in our spiritual life. A surge is like an outpouring. Jesus described it this way.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
(John 7.38-39 NIV)
This is a surge of the Holy Spirit!
Authenticity and accountability are natural attributes that help us create a greater capacity for the supernatural! How can we sustain the flow?
Spiritual health and freedom are vital to all that we do at Harbor Light.
Cleansing Streams, Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care, Grief Recovery, Issue Focused Ministry and our connections groups are all based on healthy authenticity and accountability.
For some of us these attributes are a bit challenging maybe even frightening. Unfortunately the lack of these qualities weakens our connection with God and leaves us vulnerable to demonic harassment.
The Apostle Paul put it this way.
“What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”
Eph. 4.25-26 MSG
As believers we often struggle with authenticity when it comes to expressing disappointment or even anger. So Paul continues his thoughts.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Eph. 4.26-27 MSG
Today we will talk about what it means to be authentic and next week we will look at what the bible says about being accountable.
Authenticity can mean a lot of things to different people. The "authentic" label is not just for antiques or ethnic restaurants. Basically it’s “keeping it real” and that is easier to define that it is to practice.
Amazon.com sells more than 100 books under the search term "authentic Christian." It’s ether a hot topic or there’s a serious need to get real.
Jesus had a conversation with a woman of another race and religion. She brought up a typical argument--whose religion is really right or wrong about the places and practices of our faith? Jesus didn’t get into a dispute. He moved the conversation toward an authentic relationship.
“A time is coming and has now come when the true (authentic) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4.23 NIV
Truth here is a word that suggests sincerity, honesty or authenticity. The Father invites us to engage Him with unaffected naturalness. Our worship is spiritual and natural. God loves the normal you! Just be--the real deal!
Webster’s defines “authentic” with three applications. It applies to someone or something that is real or genuine (not copied or false). It refers to facts or information being true and accurate. “Authentic” is also a description of an original--not a replica or a fake.
God did make us all originals. So, “be yourself everyone else is already taken.” Oh I better be authentic and tell you this is a quote from the 19th century Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde.
Today let’s focus on authenticity with our self, with God, and each other. As I said, being fully authentic in relationships accelerates our spiritual growth! Paul says,
“Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Eph. 4.15 (NIV)
The original phrase actually reads more like, “truth-ing in love” we grow up in Him. Genuine love is truth telling and truth living! We have to learn how to tell ourselves the truth before we can be authentic with others.
Some of us learn very early in life that it’s not always safe to be authentic. We are told not cry. We are told not to get mad. We are compared to others so we grow up forging an identity for acceptance.
It’s not OK to be ourselves. We trade in our authenticity for approval.
Authenticity requires three things… vulnerability, transparency and integrity. So lets take a look at this biblical recipe.
Vulnerability is a form of humility. My good friend and accountability partner Pastor Sherman Williams says, we build trust in relationships by being humiliatingly vulnerable.
Jesus modeled vulnerability or what I would label openness.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15.15 NIV
Jesus built trust with his small group of disciples through disclosure.
This is where most of as struggle. We see self-disclosure as too much exposure. We are deathly afraid that if you really knew me you would reject me. So we tend to hide our cards under the table.
Vulnerability is not weakness its openness—courageous! Of course there are safe places to be vulnerable. Unfortunately church has not always been one of those safe places. That’s why we insist on confidentiality.
If being humiliatingly vulnerable builds trust, lack of confidentiality destroys trust. If what I share in private goes public I’m done talking.
James the brother of Jesus says,
“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”
James 5.16 MSG
Most of us are comfortable confessing our sins to God but we are reluctant share them with each other. We are forgiven but the sinful behavior may continue unchanged or unhealed.
We are forgiven for everything we disclose to God. It’s just a matter of agreeing with what he already knows. The bible says…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1.9 NIV
Healing happens when we acknowledge our brokenness to a friend. Prov. 28.13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Two things occur when we are vulnerable with mature brothers or sisters. We are merciful not judgmental. We feel closer not alienated by our failures. Typically we find gracious support.
Secondly because we have humbly disclosed our deepest needs or issues we no longer need to hide behind a false identity. We are now loved and accepted for who we really are.
This gives us the self-respect and courage to change. We also have the support of our friends so move into healthy living. We will talk more about accountably next week.
Authenticity also involves transparency. Someone said, Intimacy is, into-me-see. The bible calls this sincerity.
“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.”
1Pet. 1.22 NIV
The word translated “sincere” has a vivid meaning in the ancient mid-eastern culture. It could also be translated, “single or unfolded”. Women shopping for fabric in the public market would unfold the material to check for defects created by stains, moths or decay.
Authenticity requires us to be unfolded or unhidden. David had every reason to live in denial about his adultery and murder. But a loyal friend gently brought him to see his sin and unveil it.
After his restoration he wrote Psa. 32
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
When we uncover our sins God covers us. The more we hide the more we hurt. David was depressed. Denial was affecting his emotional and physical well-being. He felt heaviness and hopelessness all the time. But when he was transparent he became authentic. He merged his real self with his pretend self and realized healing and freedom!
Finally authenticity involves integrity. It was also David who said,
“May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.”
Integrity comes from the mathematical term integer. An integer is a whole number as apposed to a fraction. The bible says, David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Psa. 78.72
Integrity of heart is a whole heart not a divided, or fractioned heart. We know David less than perfect but he was honest. He came to a place of vulnerability and transparency. We were born to be real not perfect!
We think of the Apostle Paul as a paragon of righteousness and we should. He models authenticity well in this dialog of vulnerability, transparency and integrity…
When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Rom. 7.21-Rom. 8.1
Authentic faith is practiced and perfected in relationship with God and each other.
I want to encourage you to takes some next steps toward authenticity. If you haven’t already enrolled in our ten-week Cleansing Streams seminar you can do so now. You will experience a new level of healing freedom and wholeness. The next session begins Sept 9th (wed) or Sept 13th (sun).
Celebrate Recovery meets every Friday night. You can heal from hurts, hang-ups and habits in a loving and accepting community of overcoming friends. A new step study beings right away.
If you have been through Cleansing Streams and would like to focus on an issue in your life for greater healing and freedom you can sign up for an Issue Focused Ministry session with trained prayer counselors. Check it out today at the IFM booth in the lobby.
In the next few weeks we will be having our connections faire. There will be many new opportunities to join a small group where you can grow in your faith and enjoy great relationships.
We want to be real people doing real relationships in a healthy church!
We want a credible and sustainable surge of the Holy Spirit!