I was wearing a Patagonia hat one day and Jeremy Sanoski, our previous worship leader, started grilling me about it.
"Why are you wearing that hat?"
"My oldest son gave it to me, " I explained.
"Oh, well. I guess that's okay. I just don’t like it when people dress like they’re into the outdoors but they’re not." (If you know Jeremy, you can hear him saying this, right?)
I said, “Oh, I am a fly fisherman. Does that count?”
What Jeremy was talking about, generally speaking, is authenticity. (Although, personally, I think it’s okay to wear Patagonia hats even if you’re a couch potato.)
But there are more serious issues of authenticity.
I remember speaking in a college chapel about 25 years ago in KS. I quoted Annie Dillard in my sermon. Right after the chapter, one of the professors came up to me and told me what a fan he was of Annie Dillard. I smiled and said something like, "Yeah, she's a great writer." What I didn't say was, "I've never read one of her books. I just came across that quote in an article I had read."
It’s haunted me enough to come to mind as I was working on this weekend's sermon.
I was being inauthentic. But I don’t want to be inauthentic and neither do you.
You probably value authenticity and you're turned off by inauthenticity.
Authenticity really matters a lot to us, especially in our relationships.
A while back Eric Mataxes was talking about some research a friend of his had conducted. The research underscored the importance of authenticity when it comes to passing on our faith to the next generation.
What his friend did was to interview college students who had walked away from their faith. He heard a common story of students being put off by the fakeness of so much of the Christianity they had experienced.
One student's story encapsulated a lot of what he heard. This student said, “Christianity is something that if you really believed it, it would change your life and you would want to change [the lives] of others. I haven’t seen too much of that.”
Here’s why this student hadn’t seen too much of that—I think it’s because really living out your faith is difficult and dangerous. The paths to a spiritually authentic faith are neglected because they’re difficult and sometimes dangerous.
We’re continuing to look at four of those difficult and dangerous paths today this weekend.
I hope you can join us and maybe bring a friend.