We've just finished our sermon series on the letter of James. If I could sum it up in two words, I would say, "be authentic."
Be authentic in:
- Dealing with suffering (endure patiently, because God has got you)
- Your wisdom (just ask God, he wants to share his wisdom)
- Your faith (don't just believe: act)
- Your integrity (don't try to rely on both God and the world)
- Your love for others (don't treat people differently based on their social status)
- Your speech (restrain your tongue, and say yes when you mean it and no when you mean that)
- Your prayers (recognise your relationship to God)
It is no surprise that Christians are so often criticised for their hypocrisy. Our own Bible constantly tells us to be people of integrity. When we fail at that, we really let our side down. But thank God that he is not keen to judge us, but to redeem us.
Authenticity is certainly one of our values at Renew. We know we're not a big, polished church, and so we don't try to be. But we do try to be loving and caring and faithful. When we fail at that it hurts us, too. We are so grateful for the chance to start over that Jesus gives us, and we're happy to extend that to those around us. As James says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." (James 5:16)
And perhaps that is the key to authenticity. It is only good for us, and for those around us, when we are authentic to the way God made us to be. An authentic sociopath is no help to anyone. Let's strive to be, rather, authentic disciples of the Lord of all creation, Jesus Christ, "and a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:18)