The other day I was at a birthday party. There we reminisced about the old times. We all concluded that the birthday boy had not changed, he was still the same kind-hearted friend who always could find a way to bring people closer together. Driving back home, I asked myself (shocking, right?) what was about his personality that could attract so many different kinds of people. He is not exactly the life of the party, so there has to be something else. After thinking for a few minutes, I realized that what people loved about him was his authenticity, but not just any authenticity. He is a true authentic Christian.
So what does it mean to be an authentic Christian? This is what I’ve learned.
Many people believe that if you wish to be a practicing Christian you have to live outside of the world, you have to live only within your Christian community. That is just plain wrong! The Lord wants us to be saints in those concrete everyday activities: picking up the kids from school, preparing for the meeting at work, casting our vote, shopping for new clothes, etc. Our main mission in life is to be saints in each and every circumstance of our life. We are part of this old and troubled world, but we are supposed to act and participate in it in a “new manner”; however we Christians are afraid to do so. Therefore when we find someone who is not afraid, we tend instantly to gather around him or her. This is the case of my friend. Why are we afraid to practice and preach our values to the world? My friend gave me the answer.
He said that we sincerely search for God, but in a subjective way. We want to find a God that fits our criteria, a God that does not make us uncomfortable, a God that does not bring trouble into our lives. We risk not finding Him at all! Sadly, many of us are searching God like this. That is why we Christian live like a schizophrenic. We have the temptation to live a double life. We pray to God in church, but we live a completely divorced life from Him in our homes, work, political life, and overall society. The consequence of our own capitulation has been disastrous to the world, but the good news is that we can always begin again.
An authentic Christian is someone who tries everyday (sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much) to live with the same thoughts, intentions, and sentiments of Jesus Christ. This is the “new manner” in which we will live immerse in the world. We will never impose our beliefs by force or violence, our example and quiet steady voice will recall the world that we are sons’ and daughters’ of God, that our true home is Heaven, that life begins at conception and ends when God calls us to His presence, and that there are actions in this world that are intrinsically wrong that must be corrected and avoided.
There are few praises the Lord bestows in the Gospels, but this one is the one we all would love to hear at the end of our lives: “Here truly is a Christian in whom there is no deceit.”
Christians are men and women of the world, but we are not mundane. This means that the world belongs to us just as much it belongs to others, that every joy and good thing that is part of this world is ours.
My friend received many gifts in his birthday, but he is the true gift in our lives.