It’s not hard to see we live in a world filled with posers, pretenders, and power-hungry people. Every day we meet people who are trying to sell themselves as what deep down they are not. Let me tell you that after working with thousands of people over a lot of years, there is no joy in posing, or pretending, or trying to be something you’re not.
On the road to excellence, you must understand what it means to be fully present and living up to your full potential. So today at The Gathering we talked about being the real deal. Being real means that my identity is not in what I have achieved, but in my core relationships.
The foundation of every good life is a relationship with God. As a Christian I believe that it’s only possible through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He alone has loved each one of us as we are, not as we ought to be. His love redeems us from ourselves and from a future more dark and horrible, that even the word “hell” doesn’t describe it or do it justice.
As a follower of Christ, my identity is in the worth that God has placed on me, not on the work that I do; on His love, not on what I am able to own, control, or manipulate.
Today we talked about living in the pathway of real, understanding these four essential ideas:
- It is God’s love alone that sets my worth and worthiness. God loved me while I was still hostile toward Him. He chose to pursue me. He is the lover and I am the loved. His love and sacrifice has made me worth more than the world can ever understand, and worthy to be called a man of God.
- My self-worth, then, sets my self-image. I see myself through the lens of God’s love, not through the labels or comparison of those around me.
- My self-image sets my self discipline, which simply means that how I see myself is how I choose each and every day to behave. I see myself as a generous, kind, and loving person. I see myself as a man of faith. I see myself as a one-woman man. This is how I am, and this is how I demand that I behave.
- My self-discipline then sets my self-respect.
Here is a truth that very few religious people will tell you and you will hardly ever hear in church: while you can never, ever earn God’s love, you have to earn your own. You’ll never feel good about yourself doing the wrong thing. When you betray the very principles upon which your life is held together, you feel bad. You should feel bad. It’s called guilt. And it’s a good thing that drives us to God for confession, cleansing, and restoration.
Keeping it real in the world as it is means at least these three things:
- I will live with no secrets. While you don’t need to tell everyone everything, you always need to tell God the deep, abiding things of the soul. It’s called confession. You weren’t made to live with secrets with God. It only cuts you off from His joy and His power.
- I will live with no grudges. This simply means that I’m going to love the way I’ve been loved. I’m going to give away what I’ve been given. God has treated me with grace and generosity and I’m going to treat other people the same way. Again, my self-discipline – to love people who hurt me – is set by my self-image; not by what they deserve.
- I will live with no limits. The Bible teaches us that God is able to do far more than we ask or imagine. So I won’t allow my life to be lived by the limits of my past behaviors or people’s judgment of what I’m capable of.
As the Scriptures say, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Let me paraphrase it this way. “If God is for us, who cares about who lines up on the other side against us?”