Saturday, January 28, 2017

Authenticity, Congruency, and Transparency

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. 

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, Naturally… I assumed you had stolen the car.”

You see when we profess to be a certain type of person, people expect us to act in a certain way. Not that we need to put stickers or chrome fish emblems on our cars but if we’re living God’s way of life, people do notice and expect us to act a certain way.

When our actions are not consistent with their expectations, our actions are not congruent with the words we profess, it creates dissonance.
Dissonance is a lack of harmony. Dissonance is an inconsistency between one's actions and one's beliefs.

Our actions don't sync up with who we say we are. They're inconsistent. They're incompatible. They're not in harmony with each other. They’re not congruent. When this occurs we are not being genuine. We’re not being authentic. We're not who we say we are.

It appears that we're hiding something or putting on airs. We're trying to be something we're not. We're not being transparent. And if we’re not being transparent, our motives are called into question and result in a lack of trust by the other person.

Today I hope to encourage us to be more open and authentic in regards to discussing our own struggles spiritually, rather than being overly direct and acting like we have it all figured out. We can come off as judgmental and hypocritical when we do. Rather, by admitting our own struggles, we engender empathy, compassion, and openness that encourages others to share their struggles. This can open the door to frank discussions of spiritual matters allowing us to lead them to the Truth.

Today we're going to look at 3 characteristics of a real Christian –

Authenticity, Congruency, and Transparency

In a Barna Group national survey several years ago it was determined that two of the most common perceptions of present-day Christianity is that we are judgmental (87 percent), and hypocritical (85 percent).

Judgmental - Outsiders think of Christians as quick to judge others. They say we are not honest about our attitudes and perspectives about other people. They doubt that we really love people as we say we do.

These outsiders are often quick to quote little snippets of scripture out of context to point out the attitudes they perceive –

“Judge not lest ye be judged.”

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

You’re not perfect, “Take the beam out of your own eye before you try to tell me about the spec in mine.”

Hypocritical - Outsiders consider us hypocritical—saying one thing and doing another—and they are skeptical of our morally superior attitudes. They say Christians pretend to be something unreal, conveying a polished image that is not accurate.

We may tell them we’re trying to help them out of love but they doubt our sincerity because they see us trying to present an image of perfection and superior morality but we clearly fall short and it’s evident to anyone watching. So they view our “help” as criticism.

So what? Why should we care?

Excerpted from the book, UnChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, originally published in 1973, Republished in 2012

“In trying to understand people’s reactions to Christianity, perceptions matter. Here’s why –

What people think about Christians influences how they respond to us. Many people make a conscious choice to reject the message of Christianity, or to avoid churches, because of their views about the faith. People’s attitudes drive their actions. Many congregations are perceived in the same negative terms: judgmental, boring, insincere, arrogant, old-fashioned, irrelevant, and so forth. Typically these images are based on specific experiences that outsiders have had in that particular church. So the negative images are not just “made up” or “out there.” Young outsiders are choosing to avoid churches and reject allegiance to Christianity because the faith seems at odds with the type of people they want to associate with.

What people think about Christians should help us be objective. Outsiders kept telling us that Christians are not realistic or transparent about themselves. An important perspective we should embrace is “You are what you are, not what you tell people you are.” As Christians, however, we need to make continual, honest evaluations of ourselves so that we can uncover the ways in which our lives do not accurately reflect what we profess. Then we might be more discerning about the things we say and how we say them. We might realize that people don’t change their perceptions just because we disagree."

So there’s a disconnect between what we say, what we tell people, and what we do, how we act. I want to focus on the first half of the equation – what we say, what we tell people when talking about our faith.

The number one impediment to others coming to Christ - hypocritical, judgmental Christians

“I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

My Momma always said –  "Do as I say, not as I do."

Don't say that word! But I heard you say that word. Well that doesn't mean you should say it. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

But you smoke cigarettes. Well that doesn't mean you should do it. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Of course, she meant well and was raising me in a manner that was in accordance with her beliefs about how a young man should behave.

Jesus warned of this concept of “do as I say, not as I do” in Matthew chapter 23.

Mat 23:1-7 KJV  Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,  (2)  Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:  (3)  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.  (4)  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  (5)  But all their works they do for to be seen of men:

When they sat in Moses’ seat they read from the word of God rather than speaking from oral tradition. So THAT was what Jesus said we ought to do.

However, the rest of chapter 23 tells us how Jesus chastises the scribes and the Pharisees for not doing as they say.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! He calls them hypocrites seven (7) times here in Matthew chapter 23.

Mat 23:28 KJV  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy G5272 and iniquity.

From G5271; acting under a feigned part; that is, (figuratively) deceit (“hypocrisy”): - condemnation, dissimulation, hypocrisy.
Thayer Definition:
the acting of a stage player

In the Greek theater, actors would speak ( krinomai ) from behind a mask ( hypo ). Together the Greek words for speak and mask form hypokrisis , from which we get our word hypocrisy. A mask wearer.

dissimulation, hypocrisy
1.     concealment of one's thoughts, feelings, or character; pretense.
pretense, dissembling, deceitdishonestyduplicitylying
guilesubterfuge, feigning, shamming, fakingbluff, bluffing, 
"he was capable of great dissimulation and hypocrisy"

Does this sound like a person we should trust?

Total KJV Occurrences: 7
hypocrisy, 4
Mat_23:28, Mar_12:15, Luk_12:1, 1Ti_4:2

condemnation, 1
dissimulation, 1
Gal_2:12-13 (2)

hypocrisies, 1


Gal 2:11-13 KJV  But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.  (12)  For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.  (13)  And the other Jews dissembled G4942 [sunupokrinomai (soon-oo-pok-rin'-om-ahee) to act hypocritically] likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation G5272. [pretense, hypocrisy]

Jas 5:12 KJV  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.G5272 

Be authentic, lest you fall into dissimulation, posturing, faking it, pretense, hypocrisy, and condemnation.

When people see Christians acting like they're so righteous why would anyone want to be around them let alone be like them? When they’re around people like that they feel they’re being judged. And they don’t trust us.

If we act like we don't have any problems and our lives are perfect, then our testimony comes off as "preachy" and judgmental because it is as plain as the nose on our face that we're no better than they are. Who we are speaks so loudly, they can't hear what we have to say.

When we tell them how the Bible says we ought to live our lives it comes off as sanctimonious, and holier than thou when they can plainly see we don’t live up to it either.

Sure, we do our best to try to live up the high calling of God and to measure up to the stature of the fullness of Christ but all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. We are continually striving to make our calling and election sure. We just need to say it.

We can turn people off because of what seems to them to be self-righteous judgmental attitudes. We may indeed have their best interests at heart. We may indeed have compassion for them and love them. But no one likes it when their shortcomings and faults are pointed out.

Why did Cain kill Abel? 

1Jn 3:11-13 KJV  For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  (12)  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.  (13)  Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

There are two elements to the self-righteous equation – what we say and how we say it on the one hand, and how our actions align with what we say on the other.

If our approach is too direct, we can trigger a contentious response, usually in the form of a personal attack. I see this play out on Facebook all the time.

“Who died and made you God?”
“Who do you think you are to tell me what to do?”
“Who are you to judge me?”
“You're not perfect! What makes you think you can tell me how to live?”
“You think you're better’n me?”

I know this to be true because I’m usually the one triggering the response.

I state the unequivocal truth of the Bible and expect people to immediately embrace the power and the glory of it. I’ve found over time though that’s not the case in practical application. Personal opinion has been elevated to dogma and people cling vehemently to the opinions they hold whether they’re grounded in truth or not. I have to continually remind myself of that and keep working on softening my approach.

Since we know that our actions can never be perfect in this life though we strive to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect, we will almost always come across as judgmental or hypocritical when our actions don’t live up to our words. Like Christ told us, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.”

We can, however, apply certain biblical principles in our approach, in the words we say and how we say them.

We hear plenty about how we ought to act and how we should strive to walk even as Jesus walked. And well we should. What we say though is also important and has an impact on those around us and how we’re perceived. And since we’re ambassadors of the Kingdom we want make sure to be perceived in the best light possible.

What we say and how we say it can make all the difference in how we’re perceived, our relationship with others, and in the response we get when we interact with them.

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

We can turn people off if we don’t take the time to get to know them and what’s really going on in their lives first. If we can’t get past the thin veneer of civility, we’ll never get to know how much they’re truly hurting.

Be kind. Everyone you meet is going through some kind of struggle you know nothing about.

We need to get them to drop their mask before we can ever get to know what’s really going on in their lives. And remember everyone you meet is hurting in some way. How do we get them to do that?

We do that by dropping our mask first, by being genuine. Being authentic. Establishing trust.

If we don’t act like we got it all figured out (rich and in need of nothing) and don’t come across to people like we think we're better than they are because we KNOW the truth and they obviously don't, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll listen to the true gospel message.

We should treat the Christian journey as a continuum. On the one end are those who don’t know Christ and maybe don’t care to know him. On the other end are those whom God has called and are deeply converted. Whether people realize it or not though, we are ALL on a spiritual journey.

We are all here to learn to know the one true God and the Truth of God. But not all are being called now. Some now some 1,000 years from now.
The thing is, we don’t know which ones are which.

I’ve heard people say, “Why don’t they get it?”. Well, we know why they don’t get it. God hasn’t called them yet.

That doesn’t mean we should treat them as infidels. Otherwise, why are we instructed to preach the gospel in all the world? (Matt 24:14; 28:19)

We are to speak the Word of God’s Truth to everyone we meet where given an opportunity to do so. We don’t know. God may be active in their lives to some degree but has not yet called them. Maybe we’re supposed to be the next link in their journey. It’s not our job to convert them or even to convince them that there is a God and the Bible is his inspired word. Our job is to be fishers of men, (Matt 4:19) presenting the gospel in word and deed that they might turn from their iniquities as we did and seek God.
The rest is up to God.

How are we to treat them?

2Ti 2:24-26 KJV  And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  (25)  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  (26)  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

How does one does do that?

1Co 9:19-22 KJV  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.  (20)  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;  (21)  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.  (22)  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

We humble ourselves. We let them know what our feelings were about God and the Bible at first. In humility, we seek common ground. Esteeming others better than ourselves we seek areas in which we are both alike. Find values that we share. Establish respect. We admit our own struggles with trying to live up to the Christian values. Once they sense the sincerity of what we’re saying, they will want to empathize and tend towards talking about their own feelings.

As long as your intent is pure and you learn how to make it safe for others, you can talk to almost anyone about almost anything. The key is to make the other person feel safe.

Remember: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

To make the person feel safe, there are two things they need to know.

First, they need to know that you care about their best interests and values. This is called mutual purpose.

Second, they need to know that you care about them personally. This is called mutual respect. When people believe both of these things, they relax and can absorb what you’re saying; they feel safe.

The instant they don’t believe them (and it can happen instantaneously – even with those we have long and loving relationships with), safety breaks down and they either clam up and glaze over or become angry. To restore safety when this happens, you must restore mutual purpose and mutual respect. So you need to circle back and re-establish the purity of your intent before continuing.

People never get defensive about what you’re saying; they become defensive because of WHY they think you’re saying it.

So we need to keep pure why we’re saying it.

There’s a book I highly recommend that gets into this in depth. It’s called, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Joseph Grenny

A.C.T. - (Authenticity, Congruency, Transparency)


The church is meant to have integrity, a moral compass, standards and then live up to those standards. Practice what you preach. Authenticity.
The difficulty, however, lies not in our actions only. The difficulty lies also in our attitude and in our words. It is quite difficult to always practice what we preach 100% of the time.

We don’t always do as we say. It’s not because we’re not trying, but because we speak in terms of biblical perfection, That’s the standard. But without tempering our words with the admission our own shortcomings and inability to live up to that perfection, we cause people to cast our words aside and attack our imperfect character instead of taking them to heart.

ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23) The problem lies in acting like we haven't.

 If we act as if we are beyond reproach, simply because God has chosen to reveal the truth to us and not to others wouldn’t that make us condescending and hypocritical?

God didn’t call us because we’re better than anybody else did He? It’s just the opposite. Because we ARE the weak of the world that places us in a unique position to help the weak of the world and to confound the high and mighty while we’re at it. (1Cor 1:25-29)

The Christian life is not about pretending that we’re perfect or that we got it all figured out. It's the exact opposite. It's admitting that we don't and that we struggle, and confess our sins to the Father on a daily basis, all the while striving to be overcomers by His Spirit. It’s a process. (Mark 2:17)

It's okay to admit that there are times when our faith is weak. There are times when we hate ourselves for not being able to live up to the standard. There are times when we wonder if God has given up on us. “Where is He? Why hasn't he answered my prayer?” “Why does he allow me to feel this way when I know he could make it all better if He only would?” It's okay to admit to others that we too sometimes have doubts and fears.

It also gives us a chance to testify to how God has seen us through it. To expose them to the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Yet to tell of his goodness and love for us. To explain why we're really here; that we’re here to learn and to be refined in preparation for something better.


Congruency, simply put, is when our behavior matches our words. Otherwise, there is incongruence and even a child can sense it. It manifests itself as hypocrisy. But hypocrisy isn't a Christian making a mistake. Hypocrisy is when we put on a mask of perfection and try to hide it. Instead we need to be congruent by admitting our faults, learning from our mistakes and continuing to move onward to the Kingdom.

To strive for congruency is to continually strive to close the gap between what we say and what we do.


The opposite of hypocrisy is not perfection. We'll never be perfect in this temporal life. We strive to continually improve and to measure up to the high calling of Jesus Christ, to the stature of the fullness of Christ. But the opposite of hypocrisy is genuineness, and transparency; honest transparency, not controlled appearance trying to be something we're not, in order to gain acceptance, craving the glory of men. (Mat 6:2)

Transparency does not mean that in our efforts to remove our mask and to be open and transparent that we have to tell everybody our business. It just means when we’re having that conversation where mutual purpose and mutual respect has been established that we are transparent. He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:21)

Php 1:9-11 KJV  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;  (10)  That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincereG1506 and without offence till the day of Christ;  (11)  Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

G1506 - eilikrinēs (i-lik-ree-nace') – only used 2 times in the whole Bible
judged by sunlight, that is, tested as genuine (figuratively): - pure, sincere, unsullied

found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun’s light

THAT’s the kind of people we want to be! To be found pure when unfolded and examined by the Son’s light!

So transparency is being pure and honest about our actions not measuring up to expectations. If we are not so quick to judge, not so quick to merely state the unequivocal Truth of God, but instead confess our own shortcomings and our own faults, then they won't be so quick to judge us as hypocritical.

We can then be co-sojourners on the Christian journey each on the continuum towards perfection commiserating together about how we continually fall short of the Way of life outlined in the Bible while striving to learn from our mistakes.

Didn't we start out at some point not fully knowing the Truth or if knowing of it, not believing all the truths in this book. Most of us, I dare say all of us, are still on that journey and yet to be perfected.

So who are we to judge someone who is further behind us on the path? Rather than judge shouldn't we who have traversed that portion of the path, reach a hand back to help the other to avoid the pitfalls that we fell into? Christianity is not about perfection, it's about transformation.

Confess your faults and sins to one another. (James 5:16)
Be more open about your struggles in this life.

If you are one who has never struggled in your faith, please come talk to me. I could use your advice.

It's okay to admit that you've come to the end of your faith and have nothing left and had to rely totally on God. It's okay to admit that your faith has wavered at times. That you’ve had to cry out, "Lord, help thou mine unbelief!" (Mark 9:24) 

We all have experienced times when we feel less in the faith than others. If you haven't then just wait, you will. We must put our trust totally in God and be willing to admit, I can only go so far. That God had to carry me the rest of the way. That's genuine, that's transparent.

We all are here struggling together to move toward the Kingdom of God. That's one reason we are not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together, to share in our struggles. (Heb 10:25) We are all imperfect people. We all struggle trying to follow God yet in our weaknesses we fail from time to time.

So when you see your parents fail, or your brother in Christ fail, it doesn't mean they're hypocrites. It means they're human just like you. Share the struggles and share the victories where God helped you through it. 

Don't pretend to be perfect. Be someone who is not trying to show off your faith. Be someone without pretense. Be real.

Preach the Kingdom of God

Be authentic in your Christian struggle but always cap it off with the joy that knowing God’s Truth brings, the reason for the joy that lies within.
So authenticity is transparency and admission of our failures. It’s the struggle for congruency between what we say and what we do. It's the rejection of pretense and hypocrisy. It's real.

Despite your struggles count it all joy. (James 1:2)

Reveal your struggles but then tell them why you're not overly concerned.
That you have hope because a better life is coming - be ready always to give a reason for that hope that lies within. (1Pet 3:15)

2Co 4:5-10 KJV  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.  (6)  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  (7)  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, [we all are easily broken like a jar made of clay] that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  (8)  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  (9)  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  (10)  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Don't play at being a Christian. Do not pretend to be a perfect Christian. Live authenticity. Live congruency. Live transparency. A.C.T. When we act, act out of authenticity, congruency, and transparency. We can fake being religious but we can't fake genuine faith because underlying genuine faith is a remarkable humility that admits, I'm just muddling along here trying to do the best I can at figuring God out and following His lead. I may not understand it yet but I will act in faith until I get it.



Who Am I

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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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