From enhancement apps, to contouring kits, we're in an age where both outward and inward authenticity is rare. How can you be authentic in a world that requires you to be otherwise? Kat Sonson, writer and spoken word poet explores what the true meaning of authenticity is.
What does ‘being authentic’ mean to you
The online dictionary defines being authentic as: ‘Not false or copied; genuine; real; having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; verified; reliable; trustworthy; entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experience’.
Author of Hipster Christianity, Brett McCracken once said, ‘To overcome our “authenticity” confusion, evangelicals must see themselves differently. Rather than focusing on our brokenness, we should look to Christ and those who model Christ-likeness. We should move in that direction, by grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit’.
What if I asked, ‘what does it mean to be an authentic Christian?’ It means to accept your faults, flaws, failings and fears. It also means to encourage your quirks and qualities and it means you have to accept that you need to work on your temper i.e. not going from 0 to 100mph at the click of a finger. It means that the bad experiences you encountered was not done so in vain (Gal 3:4), it can be turned around to benefit you for the Glory of God.
Authenticity isn’t professing holiness, it’s in your weakness and brokenness you are made whole in Christ. It is understanding and believing that in spite of your weakness and brokenness, you are not a failure nor are you imperfect, but you are real in your authenticity. Author of Hipster Christianity, Brett McCracken once said, ‘To overcome our “authenticity” confusion, evangelicals must see themselves differently. Rather than focusing on our brokenness, we should look to Christ and those who model Christ-likeness. We should move in that direction, by grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit’.
To be an authentic Christian is to know God. Knowing God is seeing His reflection of you in the mirror, and remembering that His image is what others see - all the good stuff. To know God is to know his Word. Everything He says about you is here and that’s the truth. As you see your identity in Christ, you see and know all that He has called you to be. And that is not like every other Adam, Mark or Mary. The path that He orchestrated for you from your very beginning is the one you are walking on. Even if you’ve detoured, it’s ok because He is bringing you back on track. Even if you don’t understand the pathway, trust Him on the journey (Prov 3:5-6). He will accomplish what He started in you (Phil 1:6). His uniqueness is in you. You are made in his image (Gen 1:27). We’re not all called to look and be the same as everyone else, so embrace all that you are in all that God has called you to be.
What is it like to be an authentic 21st century Christian?
With all the smartphones, smart homes, hybrid cars and app-filled gadgets keeping up with the Joneses could prevent us from achieving authenticity. We are inundated through advertising on every known medium, we are bombarded on social media platforms with things and people which portray likability and favouritism. We are not called to fit into that mould. The fakeness is real out there.
You are not defined by your Twitter bio, not by that photo on Facebook, nor by the negative reference on LinkedIn. You are defined by the One who calls you; you are defined by the One who died for you. Christ’s definition of you says you are worth everything. Don’t look to social media likes for your validation. Look into the everlasting Word, as that’s where you will get nourishment for your roots in a world thirsty for authentic validation.
We are being transformed daily into his image. We are going against the grain of modern society. It can be an uphill struggle. When you’re faced with daily antagonisms, counter-productive and counter-intuitive situations that call you to be something other than what God has called you to be and do, hold on to the Lord (Joshua 23:8) that’s one of the most authentic things you can do.
Words by Kat Sonson
Kat is a wife, mother and new media enthusiast, who likes writing and performing poems.