Church Issue #2 Authenticity and Integrity

I believe that "authenticity" and "integrity" go hand in hand. They really can't be separated, in my opinion. "Sista" OPRAH may not join these two terms together, but Scripture does.

We only need to look at the New Testament models of the Church (in the NEW TESTAMENT, of course) and we will see what it means to be truly "authentic." Authenticity isn't a difficult concept to understand. But, to hear contemporary culture tell it, "being authentic" is a tremendously difficult principle to live out in daily life.

What made the New Testament Church(es) models of authenticity?

1. They gathered together regularly (that "community" phrase again) for worship, prayer, meals, fellowship among other things.

2. They (the New Testament followers of Christ) were continually learning and growing in their ability to "follow the Lord". Their entire "relationship" with Christ was one of "following Him" and doing it with absolute obedience. Of course there are numerous examples of those who didn't "follow Christ" with absolute obedience--one need only read the Book of Acts, and the rest of the New Testament.

3. These Christ followers realized that their lives were not their own. Living in "community" was more than just being a "collection of individuals." It was "being the people of God"--people who are called out, and called together, and called heavenward. It meant realizing that we really are just "pilgrims and strangers" here on this earth.

4. Integrity was a way of life. And when any "follower" compromised their integrity, it was the responsibility of the church to gently, yet firmly called that Christ-follower back to the place of authenticity and integrity. Church discipline was not a "novel concept" that leaders were afraid to use.

What troubles me now is the very feeling/idea/concept that the "church" is nothing more than a very religious social club, and we like to welcome people in when we get bored with each other. It's a nice social club, but nonetheless a social club. Nothing tremendously different, or life-giving, or life-transforming.

Instead of having altars of repentance and weeping, now we just have "prayer partners" in case someone has a "spiritual issue that you want to talk about." Instead of preaching against greed, hording, selfishness, gossip, and personal sin, it's just so much easier to talk about the "national issues facing us in this election." (And I firmly believe THOSE ISSUES should be preached from the pulpit and preached ONLY from the biblical perspective.).

Instead of accountability, we really want people to "mind their own business." And the sins, struggles, failures in my life ARE "your business" if I am part of your family.

Whether I like it or not.

It's time be people of integrity and authenticity again.

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