Over the years I have found that one of the consistent things that God continually does in my life is to tear down the masks of religiosity and confront me with areas in my life that are less than authentic.
The area of my life where I trust in Him by faith is one of those areas. He wants to build authentic faith. True Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship means to be real before God and not put on a show.
Now I would never be so arrogant as to call what I have done at times or what other people do at times fake faith. I was, and I am sure they are trying to exercise their faith to the best of their ability and understanding.
However, I think it is legitimate to say that there have been times where I have been operating with less than authentic faith.
Here are some things to consider when you are seeking to be real before God.
What Does Authentic Faith Mean?
When I was starting out in the ministry, my uncle who was my mentor used to say “fake it until you make it” all the time.
He was encouraging me not to be afraid of not knowing everything and going ahead and launching out with the Lord. It’s great advice when you are in front of people, trying to make a good impression or learning a new skill.
However, when it comes to your trust in the Lord and walking by faith, it is lousy advice. It hurts your growth in the Lord rather than help.
In the book of Hebrews, it says that without faith it is impossible to please God.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Without having a clear understanding of this passage, you can see why people would be tempted to try to prove their faith or to put on a mask that looks like they have faith.
In some ways, we are like kids trying to perform to get a treat or earn an allowance. We try to “live up” to what we think is God’s expectation.
When we find things in our life that is less than that perceived expectation, then we hide behind a mask or try to protect our lack under the rug of some performance.
What Does It Mean To Be Phony?
Consider for a second how you relate to people you don’t entirely trust all the way. Do you come out and tell them that you don’t believe them all the way? Not normally.
Instead, we put on a mask, smile, and act as if we do.
It is when we are inauthentic in our faith. We do the same thing with God as we do with people we don’t trust. We act, behave, and say things as if we do believe Him.
There was a time early in my ministry where I did this very thing. I was in tight financial circumstances and needed God to provide.
Outwardly I would confess Phil 4:19 that God would supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. I would tell people that I was too blessed to be stressed. I would spend lots of time trying to remind God of His promise and to “pray the answer through.”
Inwardly I was in fear. I was trying to convince myself that God would supply. I would do everything I knew to do to get God to do what He had already promised He would do.
It was inauthentic faith.
After a while, the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what I was doing. I told Him I was exercising my faith.
He informed me that I was exercising my doubt. I was operating in doubt because if I truly believed He would supply, then it would not be on my mind so much.
That was the last day I worried about imminent doom.
I knew that God was my provider. My honest and authentic conversation with God about my situation turned into real faith.
I have seen people creatively use inauthentic faith in so many ways.
It is true that what you focus on will become your reality in a limited way. I have seen people take this truth and blow it way out of proportion. “I want X, Y, Z, so I’m going to focus on it and quote Bible verses about God providing so God will give it to me. ”
That is fake and inauthentic faith.
Then there are those that take the principle the other way.
If you get up and feel stiffness in your back and comment on being stiff, they rebuke you. “Don’t say things like that. You are giving the devil a foothold.”
Not only is that inauthentic faith, but it is also no faith at all.
If it is so easy to give the devil a foothold that our every little comment is an avenue for Him to enter our life, then where are our faith in God and His promises, including the one that Satan has been defeated?
Choosing To Have Authentic Faith
There are many times where we face a situation where if we are honest, we don’t have faith. Instead of trying to fake it until we make it, how about we get honest and authentic with God and talk to Him about this problem. He already knows after all.
I would suggest to you that your transparency and honesty with God is the first step to authentic faith. Instead of trying to cover up our lack, we go to God to receive what we lack.
This is how I started to learn what authentic faith was.
I had no problem believing that God loved me and wanted my best. I had no difficulty understanding that God was kind and compassionate.
I studied all the different religions and discovered that the only religion that doesn’t require humans to work their way into God’s embrace is Christianity.
So if it didn’t take working my way into a relationship with God, why would it require me to work my way into faith?
What is the difference between authentic faith and inauthentic faith?
God wants to have a real relationship with us.
We can fake it and pretend that we have it all under control, or we can live in honesty, admitting that we don’t always get it and that sometimes God doesn’t make sense.
Who would you rather be in a relationship with?
A. A person who has you all figured out and worked to manipulate you into doing what they want or
B. A person who has honest communication with you, trusting you to do your part and asking questions when you don’t make sense?
I think God wants B. What about you?
Try authentic faith in God. You will grow by leaps and bounds.