Authentic relationships are so important, yet we are all starving for them. Supposedly, the average person knows about 600 people. Now, I am not sure I trust this researcher’s method for determining how many people an individual knows. However, it certainly stands to reason that we know, at least, several hundred people. We meet people in elementary school, in middle school, and again in high school. We meet even more people if we decide to go to college. Then we join the work force where we, once again, meet new people. Our whole lives are practically stories of how we meet new people, yet we experience too few authentic relationships.
Understanding Authentic Relationships
Authentic friendship is such a special gift. It is within these relationships that we can be transparent and real about who we are. Having an authentic relationship that is genuinely built on trust and love allows us to be honest about our struggles, weaknesses, and temptations. Maybe this type of authentic relationship shouldn’t be shared with everyone we know. But without a doubt, every person should have several authentic relationships in which struggles and temptations can be shared.
Fear: The Enemy of Authentic Relationships
Most people see the benefit of authentic relationships, yet they struggle to be open enough to be in such relationships. Fear can be a huge stumbling block for building authentic relationships. It can be scary to open up and be honest about our darkest secrets or shame. However, being free to talk about such things can really lift our burdens, allowing us to breathe easy. Then we can grow past the struggle or temptation. Ultimately, authentic relationships are essential to growth!
Dedication to God: Overcoming Fear
Since being real with others is so important, we must learn to overcome the fear that prevents us from being authentic. This fear can only be overcome by our dedication to God and the humility necessary to admit the difficulties of living for Christ. Let’s face it—it is challenging at times to be faithful. We all get tired, go through trials, and and go through temptations. The world screams, “Join us! Leave Christ!” But you want to serve the Lord!
“Therefore, fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.”Joshua 24:14-15 CSB
Joshua makes a bold statement—he and his family will serve the Lord! They are going to be faithful!
This same dedication is needed by each of us. We must make up our minds to serve the Lord in sincerity and truth! We must give Christ everything. Once we are determined to serve the Lord, we will quickly realize the need for others to be involved in our journey with Christ. Authentic relationships will help us through the ups and downs on our spiritual journeys.
Bible Passages About Being Authentic:
The Bible certainly speaks to the importance of having Christians in our lives to support, love, and care for us! Check out these Bible verses and think about the importance of what they say! If you are reading this as a family, discuss the passages together.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (CSB)
My father always challenged me to help someone if I saw them carrying something heavy while we were working together. This is a good rule to live by—not only with physically heavy items, but with spiritually heavy burdens as well. We must look to help people carry their burdens. This means we must be willing to see someone hurting and go help them.
However, it also means that we must be willing to ask people for help!
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?” (CSB)
Peter messes up. He begins to exclude brothers and sisters in Christ because they weren’t Jewish Christians. Luckily, he had an authentic friend who was willing to point out his mistake and call him to be better. We must develop friendships in which we can play both roles—in which we can be like Paul and call our friends to be better. We must also find people who can play Paul’s role when we act like Peter and mess up, because let’s face it, we mess up too!
1 John 1:8-10
If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (CSB)
We certainly need to confess our sins to God in prayer. It is also crucial to have people in our lives with whom we can be authentic and honestly confess our sins. Confession is probably the scariest part of being real with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, it is such a critical part of having a healthy relationship with God. We must find people who can pray for us as we openly confess our sins to them.
Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. (CSB)
This passage is interesting to me because we tend to only apply half of its message. Most of the time, we are comfortable with the idea of asking for prayer when we are sick (and rightly so), but we are uncomfortable with the idea of confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness. Sin is a spiritual sickness; that makes it way more concerning than any physical sickness!
Paul: As Authentic as they Come!
Being authentic is, at times, very scary. However, as the scriptures we just looked at show, it is critical for our relationship with God! God didn’t want us to pretend to be perfect or to attempt to live life on our own! He designed us to have relationships with others and for those relationships to strengthen our relationship with Him! Our relationships can only help us grow closer to God if we are authentic and honest about our sins, struggles, and temptations. When we look at the letters of Paul, we can see him being authentic with his audience. If he could be authentic enough to describe himself as the “worst of sinners,” then certainly we can open up and be honest with, at least, a few close friends.
This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them.But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.”1 Timothy 1:15-16 CSB