Act on it

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I have recently read through the Book of Acts.  This book brings me awe.  It humbled me, challenged me, and taught me.  It brought me to tears more than a few times.  It depicts a radical faith, one that I can only strive to have. It’s a story of one man taking on the ancient world with a big story, the story of Christ.

One thing struck me.  God works in unexpected ways that are way bigger than anything we could imagine or foresee.  To give you a bit of background, Paul was a Roman citizen and an expert Jew, highly trained.  He was a Christian hater and torturer.   This very same man, who after meeting God on a road in a radical way, turned his life around and spent his life telling everyone everywhere about the hope of Christ.  Wow.  Just wow!

God is just as powerful and awesome today. We can choose to serve and believe in the same Lord.  This great story doesn’t end here.

Paul was beaten, jailed, threatened, disowned, rejected, shipwrecked, stood trials from Jerusalem to traveling to Rome from false accusations, and yet he never wavered.  He stood strong. He refused to give up.  He refused to back down, even in the face of death.

How God works can sure be ironic at times, and yet so effective.  God works in the unexpected. Paul had to stand trial for his faith more than once. And what did he choose to do at these trials?  This radical man chose to tell entire courtrooms of powerful and influential people of his day about his conversion story from a radical Christian-torturer to becoming a radical follower of Jesus.  He witnessed to entire rooms of prominent people. This infuriated the crowds of accusers.  The Jewish people plotted to kill him.

But being born a Roman citizen gave him a very unique vantage point.  Not just any one could mess with him.  Being a Roman citizen gave him access to Roman law.  A Roman citizen could not be punished until being guilty of a crime.  So Paul appears before a Roman Governor, and shares his same story.  But they cannot find him guilty.  And he appears again before a King with all his prominent men and military officers, and shares his story again.  And once that is inconclusive, Paul appeals to Caesar and is sent to Rome where he spends the next 2 years freely sharing the Good news of Christ.

See the irony in this all?  The more he stood firm in what he believed and spoke truth, the grander the audiences God gave him to speak in front of. He was able to witness to the most influential people in the ancient world at that time.  He shared God’s story with sincerity and passionate conviction.  The Jews in Jerusalem falsely accused him hoping to get him sentenced to death.  Instead they set the stage for Paul to share his story on an even larger and grander scale than anyone could have imagined.  God had a plan, and Paul trusted God to fulfill that plan even when Paul did not see how that would happen.

What faith!  What an example he left us. 

I challenge you to live out your faith in a big way.  We are not all given grand stages on which to proclaim God’s story, but we definitely can proclaim it.  Live with so much integrity that your life tells a story.  Take the road less traveled. Reach out and love your neighbors, your co-workers, your family, your friends, even those difficult people that seem impossible.  Show love in a world of haters.  Choose to walk by faith in a fact-based world.  Choose to forgive when you have been hurt.  Be the person who you always wish you had in your life. 

You will never regret taking the high road in life.

Authenticity

What does authenticity look like to you?

I am a huge fan of being authentic in a culture that is so saturated with ‘ fake’, filters and edited photos.

…That is so saturated with fake and unattainable.

…That is so saturated with unrealistic expectations.

This impacts us whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

We may choose to believe that social media doesn’t really affect us; that all those perfect selfies of endlessly happy and smiling perfect-looking people doesn’t bring us down.  That mainstream media doesn’t rub off on us…we know it’s all fake right? If you are brave enough to be honest with yourself, I think the truth tells a very different story.

Inauthentic.   

Inauthenticity sums up our culture, our media, and our social media, it goes deep and far even saturating our friendships and relationships. 

Inauthenticity is a theme of this generation.

Why?

Are we scared of showing our mess?

Are we scared of judgement? Of not being good enough?  Why does being good enough matter anyway?

I have chosen to go against the grain.

I challenge you to dig deep and really think how this affects you.

I will not be a victim and let inauthenticy steal real joy from my life.  I haven’t always been this strong.  There was a time in my life when media directly dictated my worth.  My appearances and my self-worth were measured by an unattainable image.  I felt I never could become or make myself good enough.  No matter how hard I tried, I was still lonely, I was still not thin enough, I wasn’t trendy enough and on and on…I just couldn’t reach the bar.  It was always one step too high for me.

Then the era of social media came into play.  This was a whole new beast.  Creating new levels of unattainable.

When will it stop?  I am not against social media.  But I am against the perceived image it betrays.  I am not OK with young teenagers editing their photos with filters that change them to perfection.  This tells them that they are not pretty enough, not flawless enough to really be seen as they are.

Isn’t that what we all desire?  For others to see us?

To see us as we are.  And to accept us as we are, flaws and imperfections included because they are us.  We don’t get to pick and choose our character, our scars- both real and ones we carry deep inside ourselves.

It is my hearts cry that everyone will put the walls of inauthenticity down once and for all.  Let’s embrace who God made us to be.  Let’s embrace that we are enough. Let’s embrace that we were created for community that loves and supports each other regardless if we are hurt and broken.  Or broke.  Or struggling with image.  Or don’t have a clean house.  Or don’t have it all together.

How would our environments that we are in everyday change, if we embraced authenticity?

We are all wanting to be real, but fear holds us back.

Be the brave one

When asked how your family is, choose to share the truth. 

When asked how life is, maybe you get real and cry when you share how hard it is. 

If instead of portraying perfection we gained real and meaningful connections that allowed people in to see our hurts, our fears, us, we would be linking arms instead of building walls.  We would be allowing others to see that it is OK to be vulnerable.  When we become vulnerable in friendships, we take a step out of our loneliness and form community.   And when we support each other, and build each other up, we reinforce that we are in this together. We reinforce that we have each others’ backs.  We reinforce that it’s OK to be broken, and that we will get through this together.

So be the difference.

That neighbor, that co-worker, that mom, that friend, that teenager…choose to be real and brave.  Choose authenticity.