The value of being genuine and the cost of being fake


Most Monday nights, my roomie and I grab our fleece blankets and watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Sometimes we color, and other times we just watch, but we always marvel at the array of valuable items people hang on their walls or use for storing spare change.

And then sometimes we grimace in sympathy for the poor folks who bring in priceless artifacts that turn out to be reproductions. Items these people spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on are worth only pennies in comparison.

That should tell us something about the value of being genuine, not just in living but in living for Christ.

I like genuine people. I like knowing that the person I’m talking to is real, honest, transparent. I like knowing that they’re telling me exactly what they feel, because then there’s no surprises later. But how many genuine people do we really know? How many genuine Christ-followers do we know?

We can find a definition for being a genuine Christ-follower in 1 John 4:20-21. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.

You don’t get much clearer than that. If you want to be a genuine Christ-follower, you need to love people. What I find interesting is that this passage says we’re supposed to love other Christ-followers. Shouldn’t that be easy?

Have you ever been around a church?

Christians are the hardest people in the world to love. I’ve been blessed with so many awesome Christ-followers in my life, and they are priceless to me. But I’ve also been surrounded by Christians who aren’t so nice.

Religion and church people have torn me up inside. They’ve cut me to ribbons and left me bruised and broken at the side of the road. And other church people have seen me lying there and kept on walking. The people in my life who have dealt me the deepest wounds are people who claim to follow Jesus.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]You can’t let what someone else has done to you force you into being someone God never intended you to be.[/su_pullquote]

It’s not okay. But if you’ve been there, you’re not alone. And you can’t let what someone else has done to you force you into being someone God never intended you to be.

Jesus didn’t save us because we’re smart or funny or pretty. He didn’t save us because we’re popular or the best at something. Jesus saved us because He loves us for who we are. He’s the only one who really knows us that well anyway.

So why not be real? Why not be genuine? Sure, it’s a little scary to reveal your heart and your soul to other people. Believe me. I’m an introvert. I know.

Why not love people? Loving others can be dangerous, yes. You always risk your heart when you love, but focus instead on loving God more than you love people. And He’ll give you the love you need to share with others.

Being genuine, loving people, doesn’t really cost you anything. Being with people costs you less in emotional damage than the price you pay by hiding your heart.

You want to be valued? Be genuine. You want to be genuine, Christians? Love your brothers and sisters in Christ. God’s words. Not mine.

For Reals

What does it mean to be truly genuine? I checked just for curiosity’s sake, and this is what it had to say:

1. possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real: genuine sympathy; a genuine antique.
2. properly so called: a genuine case of smallpox.
3. free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy; sincere: a genuine person.
4. descended from the original stock; pure in breed: a genuine Celtic people.

 Definition number three suits my thinking this morning. It’s a tall order.

To be free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy–to be sincere–makes one a genuine person, at least by definition in the dictionary.

So what does it mean to be a genuine Christian? Obviously, you need to have faith because if you don’t have faith in Christ, you’re not a Christian. And if you don’t believe the Bible, you’re just spinning your wheels if you claim to be a Christian. But there is more to Christianity than just believing in something–or as in the case of most Christians, believing against something. Our faith requires action, so if you combine the dictionary’s definition to what it means to be a Christian, your actions need to be free from pretense, affectation or hypocrisy to be a genuine Christian.

 Great! . . . So how do we do that?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. Granted, it’s easier said than done, but then most things in life are. You can find the answer in 1 John 4:20-21:

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

If you want to be a genuine Christian, you need to love people. And not only do you need to love people who don’t know Christ, you need to love people do who. Now, I know that sounds backwards, that it should be harder to love people who don’t share your faith. But to tell you the truth, for me, Christians are the hardest people group to love. Not all of them, of course. Because my closest, dearest friends are Christians who I love more than life. But then–I know some other Christians who aren’t so easy to love. Some of them are hypocritical. Many of them are judgmental. All of them are stubborn. (I could very easily be looking in a mirror right now because I display all these qualities too.) But to be a genuine Christian, I need to love my fellow Believers in spite of their flaws, in spite of our differences of opinion in preference. If they believe in Christ, they are my brothers and sisters; and I don’t have a choice whether I love them or not. I am commanded to love them.

I honestly struggle with this at times because I have experienced so much hurt and hate at the hands of the church and religion. And I have seen other people I love being torn to pieces by cruel words and selfish actions–things you would expect of the world but not of the church! But, yet, the people who have hurt me the most in my life have been other Christians. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

We are a family. And, certainly, it’s normal for families to squabble, but generally speaking families don’t try to destroy each other. (Like I said, generally speaking. I think I’ve heard stories of an axe murderer on my Dad’s side of the family but that could have been a joke.)

Want to be genuine? Christians, love each other. You don’t really have a choice. And if you choose to hate another Christian anyway, you’re a liar. Those aren’t my words. They’re God’s. And some day soon, He’ll call you on it.