Too often, I find myself looking at the men and women of God that have been raised up in this and previous generations and in so doing, I almost unconsciously find myself attempting to imitate these towers of faith. In part, this is not a bad thing. Mentors, men and women of God, have the ability to impart spiritual wisdom and guidance for our lives. Taking time to incorporate the spiritual disciplines that are often practiced by those who have already found their way can strengthen our own walk and help us to become more rooted, more grounded. There is, however, a danger involved in this practice: we must not sacrifice who we are and who we were created to be in order to “look” more like those whom we admire.
I will praise You, for am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14)
What we are talking about here is authenticity, both as a person and as a Christian. In the instant of our creation, God endowed each of us with certain qualities, certain abilities that are unique to us and to the breath that he breathed into us individually. Our personalities are unique. Some are quick with a joke and ready to laugh. Others exude love and joy in their interactions with people that seems to be the very picture of a risen Christ. Others are quiet, reserved, holding their faith and their confidences close, making dramatic impact for the Kingdom in the quietest of ways. Beyond this, our gifts and talents are different. Some have been made mouthpieces, teachers and ministers, for whom the Word comes easily and under whom people are edified. Some have been made servants, able to provide sincere welcome, comfort, and love to any with whom they come in contact; and some were made to work, often behind the scenes with little to no recognition for their effort. Each of these personalities, each of these gifts, is vital to the functioning of the Kingdom. When we short change who we are in favor of mimicking another, we make less of God’s individual gift to us.
We must strive for authenticity. We must come to understand who we are and who God created us to be, and understanding that, we must come at life from that place of honesty, knowing that God makes no mistakes. Does this mean that we should not focus on improving who we are? Certainly not. We understand that parts of the person that we were prior to meeting Christ must be crucified and that, everyday, we are being molded to look more like him; however, the person that we were at creation remains, and that person is unique, gifted, and equipped for a specific role in the body of Christ. The one who can’t be reached with a sermon may be reached with a loving spirit. The one who can’t be reached with quiet words may be reached with humor. But in all instances, if we are to reach the lost for the body of Christ, we must do so authentically. We must recognize those good things within us and allow God to nurture them so that they bring forth fruit. We must be bold in who we are. We must be faithful. We must be honest. We must be authentic.
Remember: David didn’t go to battle in Saul’s armor. He had to be authentic. He had to go as a shepherd might. It was the sling, not the sword, that killed the giant.
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