Norman mug shot (478x640)Finding God begins with authenticity, not that you asked for some stranger to unpack that for you. Most people’s conception of God seems to be nothing less than a parental figure with limited interest in his children. He’s unforgiving and somehow oblivious about the secret lives of his creations. So millions worldwide avoid conversations about religion, God and spirituality. God is so nebulous to most of us that He is disconcerting and incendiary. And we all know what people do when they are confused by or angry with someone. Eventually we explode on or abandon ‘em.

But alas, our arms are too short to box with God so abandonment is the most suitable option. God has been the source of anxiety for many of us, or at least we think, and we have somehow been conditioned by the world to assume that God doesn’t care about our disappointments, afflictions, doubts etc. But the Holy Scriptures describe God in myriad ways through narratives of failing people and “innocent” victims exasperated by life’s circumstances. Dudes and Chicks complain all through the anthology we call the Bible. And somehow, these people are able to wake up spiritually as they bare all before God.

Whether we believe in the Garden of Eden or not, we cannot escape the reality that hiding is a refined human habit. Naked is the last thing we want to be, physically or otherwise. How many of us can’t even stand to be nude with no one around? We are well acquainted with shame and thus expect our God to be ashamed of us. But in fact, the historical Jesus is not depicted as a brute who meters out condemnation. Quite the contrary he offers love and truth, never separated, to whores, crooks, invalids, victims of societal neglect…you name it. God does not balk at the man confused by his upbringing in a dogmatic religious culture that intimated that he could have multiple affairs with women so long as he didn’t use profanity or abuse alcohol. Neither does he, God, refuse to reveal to someone what the purpose of life is when they jettison traditional religion because it sold them the false ideal of a cushy life in Jesus Christ. God is either “findable” or he’s not and if he is, he certainly couldn’t be estranged to the spectrum of human struggle.

I guess when we think about it, authenticity is not really something we control. At every moment, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are completely aware of who, what, where and why we are. But there is something special about the moment when we stop denying that fact, when we simply say, “Okay, God. You already know what it is…what I am, the life I’ve chosen to live. Where do I go from here?” I’ve not met anyone of late who I can remember that hates personal development. When I ask people if they want to be better, the resounding stock response ranges from, “Of course” to “That’s a dumb assed question.” Well, for those of you who think that becoming who you were meant to be is an issue of self-actualization, this post doesn’t offer you much. But for those of us who struggle with being genuine before God, nothing is more liberating than admitting that God has always been involved with the tumult of the human condition. Perhaps you woke up next to:

  • a stranger in your bed
  • a relapse with substance abuse
  • anger of any sort
  • or…simply a prideful feeling that God is distant and your life is your own.

Life in Christ can begin there because it can’t begin anywhere else. Authenticity means knowing and submitting your current state of life to God. There is nothing more courageous and it means hurdling the numerous obstacles before us, namely false notions of who God is. When we read provocative literature, view a film that stirs the conscience or behold breathtaking art we are prone to seek the identity of the creator. Should our lives be any different?  May our authenticity move us closer to finding God today.