At my home assembly, I serve as a high school youth group leader with several other young adults. As the other leaders and I build relationships with our kids, we’ve noticed the impact of being authentic while mentoring them.
When sharing the lessons we’ve learned when we were younger, the youth respond by opening up about their own life challenges. The Lord has used this to create great relationships where we encourage the youth to follow Jesus Christ.
Authenticity is a vital component for any healthy relationship. When we sense that someone is secretive or insincere, our trust and intimacy are eroded. Authenticity, or “realness”, on the other hand, builds confidence in a relationship, since it promotes understanding, trust, and empathy.
God created us for authentic relationships
It should be no surprise that authenticity is needed in a healthy relationship between God and humankind. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), we are designed to enjoy genuine fellowship with Him and each other.
We ultimately get our desire for authentic relationships from our Creator! Unfortunately, many people may feel uncomfortable openly expressing positive and negative emotions to God. Thankfully, this view of Him is contrary to Scripture.
While God does deserve our respect and honor, He also invites us to be honest with Him concerning our feelings – both the good and the bad.
Looking at the life of King David
The Lord values authenticity from His people, and this is readily seen throughout the Bible. Perhaps the greatest example is found in the life of David, Israel’s greatest king.
Throughout his life, David experienced great success, such as being divinely chosen to be the king of God’s people (1 Samuel 16:12-13, Psalms 89:20), great political strength and fame (1 Chronicles 14:7), great financial wealth (1 Chronicles 29:28), and he was chosen to be an honored ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (2 Sam 7:12-16, Matt 15:22, Rev 22:16).
David also experienced many physical, emotional, and spiritual hardships. Prior to becoming king, David’s predecessor, and later father in law, King Saul, repeatedly tried to kill him (1 Sam 19). David was also involved in an affair and murderous cover-up attempt that negatively affected the rest of his life (2 Sam 11).
Other trials he experienced were his son’s attempt to kill him and take the throne (2 Sam 15:1-14), the betrayal of a close friend (Psalm 55), and years of torment from enemies who wanted him dead or humiliated.
The book of Psalms is a collection of poems and songs that provide an inside look into David’s emotions and his relationship with God. In the book, David is noted as the author of 73 of the 150 psalms. It’s fascinating to see him express feelings of happiness, sadness, depression, fear, joy, and faith before God.
Throughout his writings, however, David transcends his emotions by centering himself on the good character of God, looking to Him as his “deliverer” (Psalms 18:2) and “refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1). Even though David experienced great adversity, he always encouraged himself by trusting in the Lord.
David’s love for the Lord was so great that even God Himself said, “I have found in David….a man after my heart.” (Acts 13:22). In other words, David’s life was characterized by a desire to obey, follow, and trust God. His life provides a clear example of an authentic, honoring relationship with the Lord.
Be real with the One who made you
The entire book of Psalms shows us how we can be real yet respectful with God. If God already knows our attitudes and thoughts (Psalms 139:1-4), why should we hide them from Him?
It’s best to be open with the One who made us and allow Him to comfort us, teach us, and change our perspective. The next time you find yourself struggling in your relationship with God, take some time to rest, pray, worship, and perhaps read through the Psalms.
Be open and pour out your heart to God. He cares, and He designed you to be real with Him.