By Rajmund Dabrowski
Every Sabbath, my church worship ends with a special blessing. There are six elements to it. One of them says: “May Jesus bless you with courage, that you will dare to be who you are.”
Simply stated, when Jesus is All in your life, your personal authenticity is founded in Him.
You and I are Christian by choice. We volunteer to follow Jesus. We join a band of believers because He is All. In Luke 9:23 [The Message] Jesus says: “Then He [Jesus] told them what they could expect for themselves: ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am.’”
Grazyna is my guru when it involves healthy nutrition. Michal, our son, is a master acupuncturist. A while back, in my typical expression of authenticity, I asked them: “Tell me, can I be too healthy?”
“Oh, dad,” Michal responded.
All I did was ask a stupid question. My authentic inquiries allow me to be myself even when my questions go beyond common sense inquisitiveness. It’s like a child asking why the color of orange is orange? Oh, how much more I have to learn to deal with pretense in my own life.
When reading the Gospels, we often wonder why it is that we mostly understand Jesus and His parables, but His twelve companions had such a hard time with understanding and He often took them aside to explain what they did not understand.
In our 21st-century inquisitiveness and eagerness to peek into the kitchen, we want to know and challenge each other to be the first to know. Likely, He told them what we can only imagine He would have said, and our imagination leads us in many directions. He was a patient revealer of hidden things. What if He told them not to be a part of what were wrong conclusions? Would He tell them about fake or correct conclusions, shallow or precise and deep explanations? His professorial knowledge was breaking the glass ceiling of the impatient, short, and dismissive responses they were eager to offer. Oh, they had lots to learn, I conclude with a gleam in my eyes. They were like me!
Returning to authenticity . . . for many us, being authentic is a challenge. Among the challenges is the seeming discrepancy between what we reveal in private and how others see in us in public. We hide our emotions. We spin our language. We are silent about what we see and experience. We hide behind God and His judgment, leaving mercy aside. When reading Scripture, we prefer to return to our favorite texts, skipping those passages that make us feel uncomfortable.
On one occasion when visiting a small congregation in Wyoming, a congregant interrupted me and asked if I read the chosen Bible passages in a particular version. “You need to read the KJV,” he stopped me. Perhaps I need to go to the KJV again, I reflected later. But, why limit your quest for authentic Christianity to selective thinking, living and reading Scriptures in one version only?
Eugene H. Peterson writes about growing up in our Christian life, in which the declared words would get wings to fly, to walk, and to live. He writes that “We are only capable of renouncing a false life when we are familiar with a real life. Those years of association with Jesus for the disciples, years of ‘growing up,’ were years of realizing in sharp and precise detail that life is what God gives us in Jesus: grace, healing, forgiveness, deliverance from evil, a miraculous meal, the personal presence and word of God.”
If you are reading this commentary, you are likely a Seventh-day Adventist. And being one, I am sure you wish to see an authentic representation in what the faith community to which you belong believes and practices. I often ask myself: Are you a true reflection of what you believe?
How do we express what is behind our church’s name? What is behind the name, Seventh-day Adventists? An authentic keeping of the Sabbath is much more than going to church on the seventh day. And the Second Coming of Jesus is more than repeating the formula that he is coming soon. Therefore, consider that authentic Adventism also includes reflecting who we are, what we believe and practice.
Or maybe we’re actually hiding who we are when we call ourselves just . . . SDAs.
–Rajmund Dabrowski is RMC communication director and editor of Mountain Views. Email him at: [email protected]