One of favorite television programs is the “Antique Roadshow” and if you aren’t familiar it you can find it on PBS.  The format is that a select group of antique appraisers from around the country gather at a convention center and invite local residents to bring their family heirlooms and treasures in for appraisal.  Now it may sound boring, but it really is interesting since often what you think might be valuable is not and what you may consider junk can be worth a small fortune.  What determines the value of an item varies widely, but one criterion that is always considered is authenticity, or simply put, is it what it appears to be? There are a lot of fakes and carefully crafted copies out there, specifically designed to deceive the buyer. And if you are inexperienced or uninformed, you’re likely to be fooled and out a great deal of money or at least disappointed when you find out grandma’s vase is not of the Ming Dynasty.

Authenticity simply means that what something or someone purports to be, is really what they are. We handle this in our culture, when authenticity is important, by requiring those who claim to be something or someone to be credentialed or licensed.  As outdated as it may seem, doctors still receive and hang their diploma on the office wall and policemen where badges as a symbol of their authority and authenticity. Does this mean that we can be guaranteed competent health care or adequate protection from crime when we need it?  No, but it’s better than a system where there are no diplomas or badges. We have a better chance of getting what we need; when we need it, from someone equipped to provide it.  This is similar to the way many people select a church and the faith they choose to follow or not follow.  I went to the Catholic Church when I was young because my mother believed that they had the best credentials and were the authentic Church of Christ.  It could have just as easily been Lutheran or Baptist if that had been my mother’s background.

Many American’s today are critical of Muslim’s because they are a perceived to be a threat to their safety and way of life. For this reason alone, they wouldn’t dream of embracing the Muslim faith.  This is certainly understandable based on the reality of what radical Islam has done in America and abroad; the way they treat women and the terror and death they have brought to many innocent people. Yet at the same time, Islam’s most ardent and passionate followers are often willing to die for their cause; convinced that by a heinous act of violence, they will be rewarded by god in the afterlife.  You can’t accuse them of looking for a bargain when it comes to choosing a faith and a god to follow. No one would accuse them of not believing in the authenticity of their god. It is true that for generations, Christian missionaries have been willing to sacrifice all, including their very lives, for the sake of the Gospel and those they are serving. A Christian missionary serves others for the purpose of saving those who are in need of a Savior, not punishing or even killing them for their lack of faith.

Beginning next week we will explore the subject authenticity as it relates to God in Christ and what constitutes authentic faith.  It is my belief that many people who are seeking a relationship with God refuse or reject Christ because they are not convinced of His authenticity.  The other reason is that just like the bargain hunter at an estate sale or antique auction; they are unwilling to pay the price that authenticity demands.

I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is a not savior.  I have revealed and saved and proclaimed…I, and not some foreign god among you.  You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, that I am God.  Yes from ancient days I am he.  No one can deliver out of my hand.  When I act, who can reverse it?”  Isaiah 43:11-13

Tool #362  If you are seeking an authentic relationship with your husband or wife, it can be found in your relationship with the one who joined you together as one

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