It’s amazing how profound an atheist can be sometimes, and if we are not grounded in the Word or have a clear communication line with the Holy Spirit, they can sow doubts in our minds and hearts. I’ve observed that, while most of their arguments may be due to unresolved wounds, some actually have genuine questions about the faith that I had not considered before.
In one of our discussions someone expressed his disappointment that Christians are not genuine and the only reason they are nice is because their religion proscribes them to do so. The majority go further and claim that it is our fear of punishment that keeps us in line, not our real desire. Sounds reasonable, but let us explore the first claim – that Christians are good and loving only because of religious rules and reputation.
Can one be a Christian while authentically themselves?
To be an authentic Christian is a tricky one to grasp because Christianity is about being more like someone else, in this case Christ. Paul said, follow me (mimic me), even as I mimic Christ. So if we are mimicking someone else, how can we remain authentically ourselves?
To better understand it, we must accurately define WHO we are, before asking whether we are authentically such a person/self, in other words, start at the beginning.
Adam was created to be just like God, for God said, “Let us make MAN according to Our own image and likeness”. When he sinned, he was no longer like God, and became like Satan.
Jesus’ mission was to restore what God created, back to its original state.
Adam was just like Jesus before the fall. So he was authentically Adam – like God, like Jesus. As products of the fall, we are not like God, not like Jesus.
And when we refer to our ‘selves’, we are referring to the fallen son of man, fallen son of God.
Jesus, the second Adam, did not fall, He did not sin. Neither was He the product of fallen man. He had a virgin birth with no link to an earthly father. He was what Adam would have been, had the latter not sinned. He was the second Adam.
The question of authenticity must therefore be framed within that understanding, effectively splitting it into two opposing questions:
Is my goal to be authentically ‘me’? Or am I supposed to be like ‘Him’, the new ‘me’, the restored Adam ‘me’?
The dichotomous relationship is between the old self (fallen man, sinful self) and the new self (righteous saint, new creation, new Adam). To be more like Christ, to imitate Him, is not inauthentic, because that is who we are supposed to be. That is who we were created to be. If it was someone other than Christ that we are imitating, including our old self, then we are actually pretentious. Crazy right?. That’s what conditioning does.
[We were predestined from before the creation of the world. We were not predestined to receive salvation; rather we were meant to be righteous from the start, right throughout. Christ’s salvage operation restored us to our former glory. So that predestination means, designed, or designation].
So, it cannot be more authentic for a person to be more like ‘another’ Person, as is the point behind Christianity.
We have been so conditioned, since birth, and even prior to that, through our flawed genetic code, to believe that we are that old self. That is not who we are. We are the righteousness of God, IN Christ Jesus, THROUGH (BECAUSE OF, MADE POSSIBLE BY) Jesus Christ, the second Adam.
Naturally, we feel that we are not being honest with ourselves, that we are pretentiously living a lie. Read from the top again.
It’s a feeling, and it’s natural. It is vague at best, and that’s where the devil does his magic. He likes to blur the lines, the author of confusion. “Fake it ’til you make it” seems spot on here as long as it is framed accurately as pointed out.
But we no longer care about what the old self has to say, and certainly not what its master, the Deceiver, is lying to us about in this area. The same Deceiver that lied to Adam and Eve, saying: “You will be like God”, when they already were, is interestingly reversing his lie to now say that we cannot be like God, because that is pretentiously inauthentic.
We have been conditioned to think, feel and behave as our old self dictates since birth. And when we were born again, we struggled to make the transition because we did not fully understand what was going on. We became bipolar and didn’t know who we should be. It is tricky because the change was spiritual, and therefore invisible. Our physical bodies remained the same, and it is highly visible. Everywhere we went, there it was. So we found it difficult to settle with an identity that was too abstract.
If it has taken so long to be conditioned into our default position, then give some time for the re-conditioning process to sink in and work itself out. And just as said conditioning includes nourishing to grow and sustain itself, so too does re-conditioning need nourishment to grow. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. As the body needs food three times a day, the spirit needs six meals a day. There’s no set formula, it is all up to us, and may the Holy Spirit add His Rhema Word to boost our intake and conversion rate! This is why fasting expedites spiritual growth while stunting the physical.
It is very important that we KNOW these truths or have them organised in a sensible way so that we do not just throw irrelevant Scripture at the devil’s onslaught based on an ignorant and shallow footing.
BE SURE of your own salvation. It is ok to mimic Christ and not feel pretentious because Christ is our true, created nature. We are His image. That is our beginning. That is our destiny. We are predestined.