"Don't be ashamed of being smart." -Dr. Walther
My advisor and history professor Dr. Walther said that more than a few times. He said it because he saw that students had a pattern of dumbing down their vocabulary to avoid the shame of being smart. He saw the intrinsic desire to want to appear "normal".
Christians, don't be ashamed of holiness.
In some Christian circles there is the strong desire to be authentic, relevant and relatable. We find these words on many church websites in their description of themselves and I applaud the desire to be authentic, relevant and relatable.
Christians should be authentic, relevant and relatable. However, has our pursuit of authenticity been made in inauthentic ways?
There seems to be an unspoken balance of messiness and holiness that is accepted as authentic in these Christian circles. There is a holiness that is too much to be "real". There is a purity and a pursuit of it that is deemed irrelevant and non-relatable and most certainly inauthentic.
In our effort to be approachable and authentic and liked have we created a culture where we're only allowed to share our faults? Testimonies of minor depravity have been deemed glorious and useful in our small groups and prayer time; while testimonies of faithfulness and fleeing from immorality have been rejected as unhelpful and unwanted.
Don't hear me wrong: self-righteousness is wrong, but righteousness is desirable. Yes, we must "confess our sins one to another" (James 5:16), but do we do this instead of living a life of visible purity or in addition to it?
In our good intentions to rid our churches of self-righteousness and Pharisaicalness have we also weeded out the glory of obedience and faithfulness and holiness?
"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from the sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they might see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us." 1 Peter 2:11-12
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
Why is it today that we are encouraged to have invisible holiness and visible flaws? Would Peter and Paul be called puritanical, self-righteous, inauthentic church leaders today when they called for visible holiness?
Authenticity is a good thing, but inauthentic authenticity is deplorable. The idol of authenticity that pulls us toward the "norm" and not toward sanctification is an idol that must be smashed.
We are called to holiness. We are called away from self-righteousness. We can do both.
The key seems to be found in who we want to please. Is our authenticity aimed at pleasing God or men? If it is aimed at pleasing men it will gravitate to the norm of society. If it is aimed at pleasing God it will produce an honestly transparent Christ empowered pursuit of holiness.
Be authentic, but don't be ashamed of holiness today.