By Rick Warren
— September 7, 2011
But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God's Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:7-8 NCV)
In Christian fellowship people should experience authenticity.
Authentic fellowship is not superficial, surface-level chit-chat. It’s genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level, sharing.
It happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. They share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.
Authenticity is the exact opposite of what you find in many churches. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, there is pretending, role-playing, politicking and superficial politeness, but shallow conversation.
People wear masks, keep their guards up, and act as if everything is rosy in their lives. These attitudes are the death of real friendship.
It’s only as we become open about our lives that we experience authentic fellowship. The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other.… If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves” (1 John 1:7–8, NCV).
The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. We tend to use darkness to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures and flaws. But in the light, we bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are.
Of course, being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure, rejection and being hurt again.
Why would anyone take such a risk?
Because it’s the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. The Bible says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” ( James 5:16a, Msg).
40 Days in the Word
This January, I will be delivering a new church wide campaign/small group study at Saddleback Church called 40 Days in the Word. My hope and prayer is that churches and individuals across the country will unite in a common desire to Learn the Word, Love the Word, and Live the Word of God like never before. This is our most significant campaign since 40 Days of Purpose, when more than 30,000 churches united nationwide. I encourage every church, pastor, or individual reading this to pray about participating. You can find more information about this at www.40DITW.com.
For church pastors or leaders, the campaign preview kits can be found here, or if you have a small group, you can get the teaching DVD and Workbooks here. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” I hope you come along with us as we seek to live the Word of God!
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times Best Seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors. © Copyright 2011 Rick Warren.