To kick off my two week journey and exploration of how Christianity plays out in my own life, I looked up the definitions of the word “authentic.” One definition of the word grabbed my eye: “authentic” is “made in a way that resembles an original.” We certainly have an original model in the Christian faith, and this is, was, and will only ever be Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is the perfection of Christianity. Christian followers–like me–are by no means perfect. We are only works in progress, becoming more and more like Christ when we allow God’s gentle hands to buff away our imperfections.
That thought lead me to the Authenticity Challenge. In today’s world, the media casts a sour light on Christianity’s biggest names. Every misstep is picked up by the headlines and tossed around the world. In this harsh light, the Christian faith appears to consist of self-righteous, self-serving, money-centered and hypocritical individuals who look good on the outside but are hopelessly flawed on the inside. I can’t help but wonder how my own personal faith would hold up if placed in a similarly unforgiving light.
How often I have tried to hide my own imperfections! I am embarrassed by my deformities, my social gaffs, my mistakes and scars. I look into the mirror and take in the years that are changing my face, and I wonder how I can ever make a difference in a youth-centered world. I am discouraged by my own inner, self-serving thoughts. Face it, I am stuck with myself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! I know my own heart and the darkness it harbors. Whatever could I offer to a God as great as mine? Why would He even allow His eyes to rest on me, let alone call me to a purpose that would bring glory to His name? How can anyone so imperfect glorify a perfect God?
And yet, this is the paradox of Christianity: Through Christ, our imperfections are completed covered by grace while at the same time–and this is the amazing part–God chooses to allow the scars of our past to remain. Why? I mean, we are made completely perfect through Christ and yet we remain scarred, just as Christ’s resurrected body bore the scars of the Crucifixion. Why? Why not wipe away every trace of our imperfections completely and permanently? Why must we look into the mirror each day and see such frailty? How can I ever live up to God’s purposes when I am so flawed? Jesus whispers the answer:
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”
John 15: 5-8 (The Message)
Oh, I get it! My scars are serving a purpose. My scars remind me that God has stepped in and healed me. They are my testimony of faith. The scars are little markers, reminding me that God has taken me off of a road destined for my personal destruction and led me to a place where the life power of Jesus can live within me. The very thought of that truth alone is mind-boggling. It seems almost impossible to believe, that all of Christ can live in imperfect me, and yet this is what is required if I am to live out all of God’s glorious purposes for my life.
Frail? Yes! I look into the mirror and I see a mom with a small, timid voice who can barely handle today’s housekeeping. But when joined with Jesus? The possibilities are endless. My many imperfections remind me that I desperately need Him, and that I am called for a purpose and loved eternally…. scars and all.