Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Real Thing

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

This week we are going to be focusing on living an authentic Christian life.  As Christians, we sometimes feel that we have to hide behind a facade.  We feel the need to be perfect or “sinless”.  We feel the weight of expectations placed on us by non-believers and we also put pressures on ourselves.  We know the rules and commandments we are expected to live by.  Even people who are not Christians and may not know the Bible know that there are ways Christians should NOT act.  We feel the need to represent God and we should – we should represent Christ and Christians in a positive way but not to the extent that we are not real to the world, to ourselves, and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The world does not want a fake.  They are not impressed by pews of perfect people.  In fact, they are put off by Christians who feign perfection because they know that it is not real.  They also may feel that they could never belong or be accepted because of the circumstances and sin in their lives.  People who are seeking God want to see the real thing.  They need to know we struggle and we fail and we get back up in God’s grace and try again.  They need to see authentic Christians living authentic Christian lives with our weaknesses and failures along with our faith.

The following devotional was submitted by Jim Garner – High School Youth Minister:

The Real Thing
I like the real thing. I drink Coke. My wife drinks Diet Coke. It’s not the real thing. Sometimes she will switch the glasses, and I will take a big drink of Diet Coke believing it to be the “real thing” only to discover her prank as I gag on the diet drink. Yes, she got me again.

One of the greatest objections the world has of Christians and the church today is our hypocrisy. Accurate or not, it is the perception. They long to see the “real” follower of Christ only to be disappointed (again) and get a big swig of the “diet” Christian. Coming off an outstanding beach camp with our middle and high school students in Florida, I believe our students and leaders really desire to be authentic in their faith and living testimony to the world. The question is “how”?
Jesus’ followers in the early church were faced with this challenge to represent Him in a real way when He ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and they made a huge difference seeing thousands come to know Christ through their preaching, miracles, and “real” faith in the middle of a confused and curious world. The religious leaders and those wondering what was going on couldn’t understand what was happening but finally came to a simple, yet profound conclusion: “these men had been with Jesus.”

The world is not looking for another theology book, stare of judgment, or prideful boast, but simply to see lives that are filled with words and actions that identify with Jesus…the “real thing.”

Scripture to Claim
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?   2 Corinthians 2:14-16

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