Faking Authenticity

Authenticity is difficult to come by these days. It is so easy to respond to people in a superficial way. For some people, having a transparent heart is simply a hard thing to do. A glass of clean water comes to mind when I think of transparency. Transparency or authenticity can so easily be clouded in our lives. Although, I don’t just go around sharing every problem, difficulty, or sorrow that comes my way, there are times when I am able to open up. The problem is – I feel as though I’ve been programed by society and even the church to put on a mask when it comes to sharing my pain or sorrow or just being real with people.

For several years, I was attending Westmoore Community Church (WCC aka the flock that rocks) in Moore, Oklahoma. I started attending this church after an exchange of emails with the head pastor. I addressed my concerns about how we would be treated by attending there, my husband and I being gay. The pastor stated his position on what he believes the bible says about being gay and gave a blanked statement that we are all sinners.

I made it clear in the emails we exchanged that I have come to a different interpretation of those scriptures. I was not specifically attempting to change the pastors mind on the topic. I just wanted him to know where I was coming from in my belief. So, I was not wielding for a theological battle, but I did want to be known for who I am and what I believe. I wanted to be known, therefore, I had to be transparent in an authentic way as made my attempt to reach out and make a connection. We started attending the church for a few years.

The pastor commonly greeted people before the service. One of the things I told the pastor is that I liked the transparency of his heart he shared in one of the services. His response was that kind of transparency was difficult. This is one of those things that I figure most pastors try to avoid. As a pastors fight the authenticity of the heart, they will produce a heartless flock.

While being greeted by the pastor before a few of the services and being asked how I was doing, I responded with something like, “Having a rough week, but I’m hanging in there.” There were a few weeks I answered with variations of that response. It seemed uneventful and we entered the service. Little did I know, the pastor was about to take the time to educate the flock on the right way to respond to “How are you doing?”. His cold response and way to put things into order was to tell the people the correct way to respond to such a question is, “I’m fine. How are you?” – Wow! The authenticity I had previously thanked him for was apparently out the window. We were well on our way to the fake church of the petrified society. I’m sure my husband and I weren’t they only ones that greeted him and express our burdens. Overall the church was okay to attend; good rock style of worship music and decent preaching. Due to getting a home further away we eventually stopped going to The Flock that Rocks.

When we moved, we were within miles of about five gay affirming churches. We considered attending one of them. I guess the reason we did not attend one of the gay affirming churches was that we were looking for a church that was integrated more. It makes me think of the black and white segregation and Jim Crow laws – the “separate but equal” feeling did not set right with us. We most just worshiped on our own and kept our faith intimate and personal. Looking back, I see that God wanted us to have the season to teach us. Even when we come together in groups of corporate worship, if we loose our focus on direct intimate worship, then we create barriers between us and God.

Authenticity in faith comes from going where Jesus would go in faith. Jesus faith was authentic because it was direct fellowship of His humanity to His Father. When He took that fellowship to the weak and the broken hearted, the presence of God was there. He told us that when we are authentic to those who are poor in spirit that He is there in the midst of that pain and brokenness and He shares not just time, but His presence with us when we do not turn away the burdens of others. When we have sorrow, He shares in our sorrow and gives us hope for the a future.

Even when I’m going through joyous times, my personal worship time includes worship songs that say things like “Sometimes, I can not hear your voice, my God.” We have to connect emotion to our worship and our fellowship with God. It gets too easy to worship with songs that show no human emotion. Some of those songs are very beautiful say things like “You are Holy…. like no other … You are Holy … there is no other like You”. And we need those kind of songs too.

Our fellowship with God, as well as, our fellowship with others has to reflect both our emotions of being lost as well as our thankfulness of being found, else it will become hollow over time. When we begin to connect our emotions back into our faith, we will over time undo the emotionally dissociative disorder that has held so many churches captive all over the world.

~ Ryan

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Posted on January 7, 2012, in Empathy, Faith, Hope, Human Needs, Intamacy, Relationship, Spirit & Truth and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I hear what you saying …you know i feel the same way…as i sit here and worship this morning, I kinda go back to something i have heard from a Pastor hear recently, that the world is in worship all the time.. everything in earth is worshiping God, that i should just feel free to come worship at anytime, i am just adding to the ongoing choir that continues to sing to our Lord. Makes me go back to something your mother said before she died, that an angel came to see her and every blade of grass was singing to our Lord, and the Angel told her everything would be o.k.. It brought me to another level of Loving the Lord knowing he was letting her know that she was going to be called back home, and would soon join the Lord our God, and that everything was alright….i just imagine her singing in the choir now worshiping and how no matter where i am in my day its o.k. just to worship, she let me know that everything was worshiping all the time even every blade of grass was singing to our God, the rocks were singing and the trees were singing… what enlightenment she came to … i hope to get there some day myself.. as for now i take refuge in knowing i The Lord is Great he is Almighty!

    • wow i sure messed up that last line guess i should proof read before i hit post.. as for now i take refuge in knowing in the Lord The Lord is Great he is Almighty.. that is what i meant to say..lol.. wow.. funny..

  2. That’s so sad that the one pastor had such specific instructions on how to respond to greeting. I can’t imagine my pastor ever saying something like that. I’ve seen people pour their hearts out when in the post-church “receiving line.” No one is denied love or prayers. I suppose asking people to fake it is just another reflection of our plastic culture.

    Our city has several affirming churches, but I only know of 3 that are fully integrated. And yeah, not much has changed on the racial integration front, either. I’m sure there are more, but I am only familiar with 1 fully racially integrated church. The best-attended Sunday at our church isn’t Christmas or Easter–it’s the day we have 3 African-American churches and a Messianic Jewish congregation worship with us. Too bad I don’t see asking the local MCC church to join us in the near future.

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