Being real. It sounds so good. It sounds like something we should all be doing.
The reality though is probably that we aren’t as good at it as we think we are, and being real costs. For example, it might cost us our pride as we admit to each other that we haven’t actually got it all together. It could cost us those ‘friends’ who have been tagging along all these years with a wrong perception of who the real me is; it might cost us time and emotional energy as we journey with each-other in Christian community and commit to walking the broken road together.
Being real cost Jesus too. Ultimately, his life was taken because he was absolute truth and love personified. It drove the religious people crazy enough to kill him. He called out sin and hypocrisy, offered truth, love and eternal life but ultimately He was too real for most to handle. So they killed Him. Our real King took a real death for our very real sin. Easter tells us that’s not the end of the story. Death couldn’t keep Him, the grave couldn’t hold Him and today Jesus offers us the most real-life imaginable as we place our trust in Him.
Being real is really key to coming to faith in Jesus. At some stage, we have to admit we’ve messed up this thing called life and need some help getting it back on track. You can’t come to Christ with it ‘all together’; there’s no room for Jesus there in our ‘all togetherness’.
Being real with each other means meaningful relationships: it means we let the walls down, open up about where we are at, and put ourselves on the same page as everyone else.
Being real is life-giving: Pretending everything is ok and putting on a brave face is draining. Jesus can’t work with pretend. He is so very real. Be the real person he has created you to really be.
However, being real isn’t telling everyone I meet about everything that’s going on in my life. Not really. That’s more like being a five year old. Being real is more about knowing time and place, and building those meaningful relationships where you can share who you are and where you are at without fear of being judged. In reality, for most of us, that’s probably one or two people at best.
Being real is a journey we are all on. Here’s some top tips to help us along the way:
- Don’t aim for real; aim for love. Being real in and of itself won’t lead to real change. Love changes everything. Love God, love others – as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39)
- You don’t need to tell everyone – everything! Know your time and place; be real with trusted friends.
- Know when to get help – and receive it. Sometimes we need more than a conversation. God has gifted men and women in the area of spiritual counsel, and speaking to a professional about where you are at can be life changing.
- Embrace the ‘ouch’ moments. Don’t immediately reject criticism. It might be kindness in disguise. Listen, learn and apply.
- Disagree well. Being real is sometimes disagreeing but not spitting the proverbial dummy. Family sticks together. Through thick and thin. Speak it out, share your concerns, face to face is always best!
- Count the cost. Being real won’t come easy – what needs to change, where is it going to hurt you most? Have you counted the cost to your relationships and lifestyle?
- Just be you. Often, all we have to offer is ourselves. We have no words, no song, but we can offer the gift of us.
It really is ok not to be ok in our church; but you don’t have to stay there. Jesus and His loving, real Church are an unstoppable team.
Questions for application:
- Who am I being real with, and why do I find it ok to be real with them?
- What keeps me from being real? What am I really afraid of? What bad experiences have I had in the past where being real stung?
- What practical steps can I take today to be more of a fully devoted real follower of Jesus? What is that going to look like in my life and/or the life of my family?