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What Is Authentic Faith?

It’s tempting to pretend you’re super-spiritual, that you have all of the answers. And so much scarier to admit you don’t.

A woman asks what is authentic faith
Credit: fatchoi
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He must increase, but I must decrease. Matthew 20:28

One of my favorite children’s books is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, about a stuffed rabbit who longs to become real. The best lines in the whole book are spoken in the nursery, between the little rabbit and a toy horse: “What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day….“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.”

I guess I like that so much because I think it speaks to a problem many Christians have today—a lack of realness, or authenticity. Many of us may have an outward appearance that impresses, like the toys with “stick-out handles.” Or we may have “things that buzz inside,” i.e., gifts and talents that make us special. But when it comes down to it, how many of us are real?

I get almost physically ill when I read some Christian books, or hear certain speakers talk about the Christian life. Even meeting with other Christians can sometimes feel like a gathering of spiritual Kens and Barbies—cookie cutter Christians who are there to talk about how they’ve arrived. This behavior probably affects me so because I see it in myself. It’s tempting to pretend you’re superspiritual, that you have all of the answers. And so much scarier to admit you don’t.

How do we become real? It’s not something we can accomplish. The rabbit had to have his fur loved off, and I believe that’s the way it happens. We have to accept that Jesus loves us—really, loves us. None of us has all of the answers. No one has arrived. But He loves us anyway. And that frees us to be real—and to really love others.

Faith step: Ask Jesus to help you grow in a faith that is authentic, that His character may increase in your life.

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