Posts Tagged authenticity
Over the last few days, we’ve looked at the problem of fearing man and how this can change as we set our focus on fearing God instead. Can you imagine what would happen in your life if you could apply the gospel to this key area?
In his booklet, “Gospel Relationships,” Tim Chester describes two powerful things that take place when we start fearing God:
1. The fear of God sets us free to love people.
We are not free to love other people when we fear their rejection or crave their approval. We may speak of loving someone, but in reality we are using them to gain the affirmation that we crave. We may serve them, but in reality we are serving our need for affirmation. If they do not deliver that affirmation, then we respond with bitterness, depression or anger.
Consider a father who craves the respect of his children. When that respect is not forthcoming, he may discipline them out of anger or he may manipulate them through bribery. He is not serving their needs. He is motivated by his need for respect rather than selfless love for his children. As a result, his discipline may well be counter-productive. Imagine now that the fear of God relativises his desire for respect. The respect of his children is no longer determinative in the way he behaves towards them. As a result, he is free to discipline them in love according to their needs.
2. The fear of God sets us free to be ourselves.
When we fear other people, we act in whatever way we think will enable us to gain their approval or avoid their rejection. We are not free to behave as we want…We often fear other people because we fear exposure. I wear a mask to prevent people from discovering the real me. In God we have someone who knows us completely in all our need and sin. Yet still he accepts us and loves us. Confidence in the grace of God means we need not fear exposure and so we do not have to pretend. We can be ourselves.
“The only people who get better are people who know that, if they never get better, God will love them anyway.”
For more information about A Scandalous Freedom (the book and some accompanying free podcasts), click here.
Yesterday I spent my morning at Defensive Driving Class and, no, it wasn’t just for fun. I got a speeding ticket a few months ago, and this class seemed like my best option. I have to say that the class was much better than the last time I took it (shorter and more multi-media). My fellow speeders were a diverse bunch and none of us wanted to be there. Made for some interesting observations and lessons that I think translate into the rest of life:
1. Everybody has a “good reason” why he or she messed up. I felt like we were all part of Shawshank Redemption, where the inmates prided themselves on the fact that nobody was guilty. Whether it was because of stupid people on their cell phones, bad drivers that forced people into difficult situations, or speed traps (my personal excuse), everyone had a reason that they weren’t as bad as their ticket indicated.
2. Everybody is defensive and self-justifying. The morning was filled with the kinds of questions that tell you that people didn’t really want the answers as much as they wanted a platform to publicly share their excuse. It wasn’t enough to feel personally justified for our law-breaking behavior; we needed to make sure everyone else knew how good we were.
3. Impactful teaching requires an authentic life behind the words. The class was taught by a loud, self-confident former truck driver from Chicago who clearly knew all the correct driving rules and the many reasons not to speed and wasn’t afraid to condemn those of us who were speeding (“You people need to learn…”). However, both through a personal conversation, it was clear that he was a perpetual speeder dealing with road-rage problems who scoffed at the idea of really driving the speed limit. As a result, the lessons seemed hollow and fake. It was a reminder to me, as a teacher and preacher of God’s word, that my teaching is only as impactful as the life behind it.
All of this reminds me about my need to believe the gospel day by day. Only through the gospel will I 1) have the freedom to admit that I am as bad as I am, 2) lose my need to impress others with my excuses, 3a) have the power to live a life that is authentically changed, and 3b) admit my failures and shortcomings in my teaching rather than give off the appearance of sham holiness.