There was an athlete who said some things that got them into trouble (I’m being purposely vague here because there’s no need to reveal their identity). To their credit, they reflected upon their words and the consequences of them and later admitted much of what they said was wrong. However, they didn’t regret it because they were spoken “in the moment.” They went on to say, “Like whatever I feel, I’ll say it or do it. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.”
What? Come again? You admitted what you said was wrong, but you do not regret saying it because acting on your impulses (i.e., “being true to yourself”) is more important than speaking constructively and not weaponizing your words?
How can that be?
Welcome to the secular version of what is known as living authentically. It is the god before whom so many bow today because it is in fact where they become a god. Though it can mean different things to different people, the gist of the secular version of living authentically is that we should live life in whatever way we see fit. As one writer put it, “Know yourself. Own yourself. Be yourself.” Another writer tied the word in with “author” and suggested that being authentic “is about being your own author.”
You noticed the common denominator in all of this is self (along with the absence of God). There is no outside, external, or higher authority. For our athlete it was simply “whatever I feel.” How we determine what is right for us is very subjective and sketchy—it is based on our feelings, instincts, intuition, experiences, nature, etc. It might be different or exactly the opposite of what someone else has concluded was right for them. But there is no objective standard—truth is self-created, chaotic, confusing, and inconsistent.
After all, life is messy, right?
There’s quite a bit that I’ve read about living authentically that is healthy and appealing (the value placed on honesty, vulnerability, it’s recognition of the dangers of perfectionism, consumerism, and technology), but this is not. And it’s a fatal flaw because the enthronement of self is exactly what got us into trouble in the first place. Eve listened to the serpent’s lie and decided she wanted to become like God. She enthroned herself, acted out her truth, and the rest is history. That she was sincere is not the point (our athlete was sincere), but as it turned out, both our athlete and Eve were sincerely wrong. (As a footnote, Adam was also wrong, but in a different way).
If you’re looking for a truly authentic person, look no further than Jesus Christ. He was the epitome of what is means to be a sincere, honest, and loving. Yet He did none of this apart from God. On the contrary, He did it all through Him (see this in John’s gospel— 5:16-23, 6:38-50, 7:28-29, 8:19-28, etc.). He taught that God’s will was found in the Scriptures—which He said “cannot be set aside” – 10:35. The foundation for authentic living is not ourselves—it is God as He has revealed Himself in Jesus and through His word.
Yes it’s true that you’ll find some who profess to follow God who are hypocrites (just as there are some who aren’t living authentically despite their claim to be)—they existed in Jesus’ time as well. But that didn’t stop Him from loving and serving God.
Don’t let it stop you!