To say I was unpopular as a boy would be an understatement. I wanted to fit in and find acceptance, but there were three significant strikes against me – I struggled with my weight, I loved to read the World Book Encyclopedia for fun, and I wore Trax shoes. For those unfamiliar with vintage 80’s knock-off footwear, Trax were the K-mart Adidas want-to-bes. But no one was fooled. In a time when being a part of the “in-crowd” at school demanded the full complement of status symbols – Jordache, Izod and Adidas – wearing a K-Mart knock off was the worst of all possible worlds.
Discount stores finally figured this out and started producing their own distinctive, no-name brands. At least a no-name brand says, “I don’t really care what you think; I’m more practical and not pandering to your good opinion.” But the knock-off attracted all the wrong kinds of attention. My father was trying to help, but as a child of the depression, he was oblivious to the narcissism of the age and the power of the status symbol. He was far too practical (and wise) to spend beyond our means to purchase a logo. But, alas, there was no anonymity for the wearer of Trax shoes. Everyone knew you were trying to fit in but came up short. No one was fooled by the knock-off. It was important to be the real deal.
Authenticity is important. We want this in our food, we this in our relationships, but what about our faith? No outcry is more universally raised in reaction to Christians than the cry of “hypocrite.” Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Mahatma Ghandi he asked him, “Mr. Ghandi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?” Ghandi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.” No one is fooled by a knock-off.
The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy pointed out the importance of authenticity for pastoral ministry. He instructed him to preach the word, in season and out of season, but he also stressed the importance of living authentically as a follower of Christ before the believers in Ephesus.
… set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity… Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:12, 15-16
Walking the walk, makes our talk talk. Just like Timothy, we are called to live authentically — our lives and doctrine corroborating one another. Scottish pastor, Robert Murray M’Cheyne famously wrote.
“A minister’s life is the life of his ministry…. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument will be the success. It is not great talents that God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”
Join us this Lord’s Day, February 17, as we examine 1 Timothy 4:11-16 and consider the call to live authentically as Christians. We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:45 am for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. We look forward to seeing you.