Airplanes, Instagram, & Alaska: a Reflection on Christlike Authenticity
I write this now on an airplane bound for Eugene from Seattle. It’s a small plane, only two people to a row, and since it isn’t very full, I have two seats to myself. I stretch out my legs; they ache a little from the weekend spent riding snow machines near my family’s cabin in Wasila, Alaska.
I scroll through the pictures I took on my iPhone from the weekend: snowy, frosty landscapes, sunrises against the mountains, posed shots of my sister riding across the frozen lake into the Arctic sunset.
They’re perfect, all they need is a little tweaking here and there on VSCO and they’ll be Instagram-ready.
Because, let’s be honest, nothing is more authentic, more “goa
ls”-worthy than the perfect shot of a weekend at a cabin in Alaska, right?
But now I find myself coming back to Stephanie Tait’s words in chapel last Thursday, one of the last things I listened to before jetting off to a bustling airport this weekend.
“Authenticity isn’t about being known, it’s about pointing people back to Jesus.”
At this point, I have to ask myself, what did I do this weekend to point people back to Jesus?
Sure, I could have posted a picture of the breathtaking northern sunset and remarked on the glory of God, or one after a long trail ride and commented on the goodness of Jesus in sustaining us.
But, really, what’s actually authentic about those?
More and more, I’m realizing that I tend to make God, and glorifying His love, an afterthought. Like an
obligatory prayer said after accidentally eating a few mouthfuls of food, or a nonchalant thank the Lord after a successful presentation, I edit and squeeze the authenticity out of my life. I always seem to end up slapping on a bit of “authentic Jesus” in order to save myself from feeling shallow or fake.
I’ve acted as if Christ can be reduced to a photo caption.
As I write this, my own words convict me and I realize something.
I’ve had the wrong definition of authenticity my whole adult life.
Authenticity isn’t just being o
pen, or less-edited, or candid.
Authenticity is raw.
It hurts, like a big bruise you get from falling off your snow machine, or an open cut, or a bad sunburn.
Authenticity hurts like a wound left by nails hammered through your palms.
That’s authenticity. It isn’t the next picture I’m going to post of Instagram, or the filter I’m going to use on Snapchat. Authenticity is the joys and sorrows of the Christian life. Authenticity is being strong and vulnerable enough to share the ugly parts of your life, even when you want to post another “Happy Monday!” picture on social media. It is an acceptance of the fullness of the Gospel and laying all your pain and sin at the healing feet of Jesus Christ.
No # required.