In Search of Authenticity

We’re living in the age of reinvented truth, where each of us is somehow entitled to our own indisputable version of it – you have yours and I have mine. No doubt, this is why we now experience the rise of soothsaying media pundits and the cultural Gestapo keeping the gaslights turned up – ever spinning the narrative of current events with the sleight of hand of an illusionist, bending our perception into a useful compliance and conformity. Because in a world where truth is no longer transcendent — it invariably becomes nothing more than a transient commodity to be sold to us like a shady huckster’s miracle cure tonic.

So is it any wonder that we reflexively crave the anchoring certainty of something (or someone) really true to believe in . . . with a transparently simple authenticity. And there’s the rub – once we find something to believe as true, we make it our truth. I don’t mean this in the way that popular culture does – in its sophomoric assumption that truth is a malleably transient concept, subjectively shaped by our personal opinions. Rather, I’m talking about something far more epistemological – that in our process of believing something to be true, we inescapably bring that truth into our already developed understanding of what we think truth should be . . . and by doing so we inevitably force it into conformity with our preexisting beliefs.

Therefore there is what is true and there is our interpretation of what is true – like an altered copy of the original . . . making it something less than what is authentically true. In this way, intellectual honesty requires us to be humble enough to confess the limitations of our own understanding of what is true . . . and in doing so we become malleable enough to be altered by the truth. So instead of us arrogantly assuming we get to judge what is true – truth makes its assessment of us, measuring us against its immutable standard of what is genuine and authentic . . . because this is the unyielding nature of reality.

But the purveyors of nominalist and gnostic ideas would have us believe that our perception of reality is more important than reality itself – as if the very nature of reality could be altered by our opinions of it. Ironically, it’s precisely this type of arrogance that keeps us at odds with our own existence – unsettling us at the very core of our being. This is the predicament our culture finds itself in – ever desiring to pronounce its own opinions as truth . . . moving us further and further away from all that’s authentically true. But this has always been the case – our search for authenticity will never be satisfied . . . on our own terms.

So as I anticipate the advent of the one who self-describes as “. . . the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6), I’m reminded of where authenticity resides – because it doesn’t get any more authentic than Jesus. For Jesus is the perfect expression of an authentic human – defining what it means to bear the image of God. He enters the brokenness of our world, as no stranger to the full human experience – he chooses the self-emptying path of the cross, entering into our suffering to free us from our suffering. This is the deeper reality, the most authentic moment in time with which the whole of history is defined. So let us celebrate this season in the most authentic way – by celebrating authenticity incarnate.

. . . and sometimes it’s the simplest life that turns out to be the most authentic.

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