Authenticity in the Church

There is no getting around the fact that we are all broken. Yep. Every last one of us.





Ruined by illness and ravished by our own inhumanity, we rage against the self and the system.

It’s true: we are fallen.




To know thyself – or to know anyone – is to see that this is true. No one is righteous.

Not one.

Christians, to the detriment of the Church, have sometimes tried to hide from this fact – putting up fronts and facades of perfection, perpetuating false images of churches as polished, squeaky-clean country clubs for classy, happy saints; instead of hospitals for the damaged, ailing, addicted, and recovering.

This, of course, is not good. The Church, and the Gospel upon which it is founded, is not about perfection, but about redemption; it’s about grace for those who don’t deserve it. It’s about hope for each and every screw-up that resides among us.

Yet I have recently been wondering…

Has the Church – in a reactionary effort to purge itself of a “perfect/polished” veneer – turned “brokenness” into a bit of a fetish: focusing on it ad nauseam, touting it in the name of “grit,” “reality,” and “authenticity” to the point that the state of being broken has become its own sort of righteousness?

It seems to me that for many in our churches today, “being screwed-up” has become a badge of honor and “authenticity” (that is: being up front about one’s own messiness) has become a higher value than, say, holiness.

This saddens me.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the church should be the safest place for one to be foreword about their brokenness. However, it saddens me that those who are “messier” are de facto the more “authentic” and more believable/relatable than Deacon Joe Straightshooter, who has a solid marriage, is a good family man and doesn’t curse in casual conversation. Why is it that the “I’m not churchy; I’m real” crowd with tattoos and flasks gets more airtime and respect than the churchy, pleated-khaki wearing, rule keeping nerds?

It’s not that Edgy Eddie and Broken Betty shouldn’t be leaders or role models in the church. By all means, they can and should be. But for young people, new Christians – all of us really – I think we also need more models of virtue and example of holiness. We need to be able to see “authenticity” in Straighlaced Stanley and Angelic Angie. We need to be able to see the nice guys and the sweet old church ladies as role models. We need to recognize that goodness is as “real” and “authentic” as brokenness.

Yes. We are all broken. But that does not mean we should pat ourselves on the back about it and languish together in stagnant waters of self-satisfied imperfection. No. We must always strive for better. We must always be moving toward righteousness, in a positive direction from broken to more whole, by the grace of God. After all, to be a Christian is to follow Christ, to aspire to be more like Him. For it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16).

Brokenness and sin may seem to be the more natural state of being for us, but it’s not ideal. We were made for more and Christ’s atoning sacrifice allows us to become more. That is…

Less broken.

More whole.

More together.

And in Christ,

more complete.

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