There was something about Will Smith’s song Gettin’ Jiggy With It, that parents and older adults tried to keep using it to relate to the younger teens. Which feels totally unfair, since I don’t think it was THAT bad of a song. But you saw people over enthusiastically informing teens that they are “Jiggy With It” in hopes of connecting with the younger generation, so much so that this song became a joke. Instead of being authentic to the person they are, they tried to become something they definitely were not and it had the effect of pushing people away. I truly believe that people are looking for something authentic. Even in our faith, when we try and paint ourselves as perfect, an unauthentic representation, we push people away by our holier-than-thou attitude. The more we try to be something that God did not intend for us to be, the more inauthentic we are, and the more awkward we look.
In Samuel 17, the giant Goliath relentlessly taunted the armies of Israel. It was David, the future King, who stood tall to meet the challenge of the man who defied the One, True God. King Saul, the current King, seeing the stature of David moved immediately to throw on the his armor on David.
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
1 Samuel 17:38-40, NIV
As the warriors of Israel attempted to put the armor on David, it was obvious that it would not work. The armor didn’t fit, it was saggy and baggy and would have done more to hinder David than it would to aid it. Besides, with the size and fierceness of Goliath, armor would not have helped David anyway. If he wasn’t going down, he would be going down hard. David had to be true to the person that God had made him to be. David had to fight authentically to who he was, how he was equipped, and trusting God at every step.
As we seek to not just be a consumer of our faith, but a participant in our faith, we must stay true to the person God has called us to be as we continue to grow deeper in our relationship with Him.
God has given you a specific set of gifts, specific passions, and specific abilities. You are not meant or designed to do everything. That right belongs to God and God alone. In our effort to contextualize the Gospel, we must avoid twisting it out of authenticity in order to make it relevant. The Gospel, with its promise of eternal and everlasting life, is incredibly and indescribably relevant.
But even more than that, people need to see an authentic faith lived out publicly. We may try and mask our faults and project the image of perfect, but no one is actually buying it. One of our strongest testimonies can be living out our faith amidst the crisis of the storm. We may cry but we cry out to Jesus. We may be weak but we are weak in the arms of our Savior. Our refusal to give up on God could be the display that someone needs to see and know that it’s okay to struggle because God will not give up on us.
Never Stop Growing
Yet, even as you participate in the story of God, acknowledge that even you, are a work in progress. Where people in our community can see us authentically struggling, it is equally as important that they see us authentically growing. I have heard people use “this is how I am” as an excuse to remain in their sins. Yet, in our pursuit of God, we never stop the process of being refined. As Christians in the community, we let the world see us grow closer in relationship with Jesus Christ, putting on full display his transformative work in our lives. I personally can speak of many times when watching someone grow was an encouragement for my own personal growth. Seeing their drive and determination spurred in my a similar drive to be in deeper relationship with my Savior.
As Christians, we live authentically, showing the realness of our faith as a Holy God invades and transforms a people in need of him. We are not consumers of our faith, but authentic participants, declaring victory in the name of Jesus Christ.