We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. –1 Thessalonians 2:8
Be authentic. Be yourself. There is no greater witness than a person who is open and vulnerable about his love for God and his struggles. I don’t know about you, but I can’t relate to perfect people. Yet there are loads of Christians running around today who want you to think they are perfect. People who act like they don’t have problems are one of the major stumbling blocks to their friends and family becoming Christians. I like the bumper sticker that says, “Christians aren’t perfect – they’re just forgiven.”
I think the old Skin Horse gave the Velveteen Rabbit some outstanding advice about being an authentic person. Maybe this advice is good for you, as well.
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs on his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”*
1. What are the two things authentic Christians share according to 1 Thessalonians 2:8?
2. Have you ever pretended to be something you are not? How can you strive to be more like Jesus and be more authentic in your relationships with people around you?
2 Corinthians 12:15; 1 John 3:16
* Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit (New York: Avon Books, 1975), pp. 16-17.