Characteristics Of Authentic Christians
By Richard D. Dobbins
The starting point of being an authentic Christian is being able to trust in God, and, along the same lines, being a trustworthy person.
Authentic Christians Are Able To Trust
It is true that a lot of people who go to church resemble Christians but lack real authenticity. They have no living, vital relationship with Jesus Christ.
But Jesus, in the parable of the wheat and the tares (see Matthew 13:24-30), warned that focusing our attention on removing the “tares,” or unauthentic Christians in the church, might damage authentic Christians.
Many times the professed Christian is a great worrier. But as you grow in your relationship with Christ, you learn how to trust Him. You learn how to commit things to Him in prayer, and you find He is faithful to respond to your prayers.
Trust is not always easy. It is like the story of the man who pushed a wheelbarrow across a tight wire stretched over Niagara Falls. It was one thing for observers to say they trusted he could do it-it would be a different matter for them to volunteer to crawl into the wheelbarrow! Really trusting God means crawling into the wheelbarrow.
I think when we first come to the Lord our relationship with Him is so fresh and vital that it is easier to trust Him. But we need to learn that a true trusting relationship with God grows stronger as we allow the Holy Spirit to play His role in our lives, along with the role we play in trust. Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). There is the part you play – trust in the Lord – and there is the part He plays – He directs your path.
Involved in trusting God is being a trustworthy person. The authentic Christian not only trusts God, but he is someone who is worthy of the trust of God’s people.
Authentic Christians Are Transparent
If you have been in the church very long, you know there are people who are evasive and others who are downright deceptive. And there are those who are in denial; they have issues in their lives and their relationships that they never acknowledge or deal with. These are the kinds of people who often are the source of division and confusion in the church.
Authentic Christians are transparent. What you see is what you get with them. They have learned through hard experiences that the transparent life is more likely to bring them the joy and peace of the Kingdom, so they are honest about what is happening in their own lives and they are honest about issues they have with other people.
Transparent people learn the wisdom of living according to John’s plea that we be transparent in our relationship with God, with ourselves, and with other people (see 1 John 1 :7-9). That is, we live in confession of our sins, we find forgiveness of our sins, and we walk in truth and light with God and with others.
Authentic Christians Are Truthful
Being truthful is not always easy. Just look at Peter. Even though he promised the Lord he would go with Him to prison and to death, when he was put to the test, Peter denied even knowing the Lord (see Matthew 26:35,69-75).
Each of us has to come to terms with our heart’s deceitfulness. Jeremiah reminds us that there is nothing as deceitful as the human heart (see Jeremiah 17:9). We cannot know just how deceitful our own hearts are except as God reveals it to us. The contrast between authentic Christians and phony Christians is nowhere seen more clearly than in this area of truthfulness. Authentic Christians are truthful about who they were and who they are.
If one thing provoked the Lord more than others it was pretense. His most angry remarks were reserved for the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who pretended to be what they were not. They were so busy trying to be perfect that they forgot to be honest.
Paul never forgot who he was. On more than one occasion he referred to himself as the “chiefest of sinners,” the greatest of sinners. I believe one of the greatest benefits of testimony meetings-where we tell others where we were and what we have become through Christ – is that it keeps Christians honest about who they were and who they are.
By being truthful about who you were before Christ came into your life, you open a window of hope for many of your friends who are still where you were. By being truthful about where you are now, you encourage others to be honest about themselves. There is no place for boasting among Christians. We are all sinners saved by grace.
Authentic Christians Are Thankful
All over the world Americans are known as great complainers. Unfortunately, there is no scarcity of complainers among churchgoers either. But authentic Christians are thankful, and this is the will of God for you if you are a Christian: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
There are times when you have to find God’s will in complex issues, but there is nothing here you have to discover. Paul makes it very clear that when it comes to thankfulness and gratitude, it is always the will of God for each of us.
But many times we look at what we DO NOT have in life instead of what we DO have. And we look at what is wrong instead of what is right. There is something about giving thanks that brings us into the presence of God, which is why Paul is encouraging us to be thankful people. Authentic Christians are known for their gratitude and thankfulness. This is one of the characteristics that makes their lives so attractive.
Regardless of how circumstances may be going in the thankful Christian’s life, he can find something for which to be thankful. Remember Paul and Silas, with their feet in stocks in prison, found something for which to be thankful and sang praises to God at midnight. It was the will of God for them to do that, and in doing it they set a whole prison free (see Acts 16: 19936).
The authentic Christian can always find something to be thankful for.
Authentic Christians Are Team Players
There are no “lone rangers” in God’s kingdom. He has called each of us into a relationship with Him and with His children. God has made us for relationships. He wants us to be team players.
There are five team concepts that test the maturity of each member of the body of Christ:
1. A team player brings himself under the rules of the game and the discipline of the coach. Spiritually applied, this means the authentic Christian studies the “rule book,” the Bible. He learns Scripture and he learns how to use Scripture.
2. A team player makes sure of his spiritual fitness just as an athlete fakes care of physical fitness. Give attention to prayer, Bible study, spiritual devotion and discipline.
3. The real “pro” understands the coach and manager know more than he does and submits to them. When we talk about the manager, we are talking about the Lord. And when we talk about a coach, we are talking about your pastor. A real team player plays wherever the pastor needs him to play.
4. The real pro understands the purpose of the game is winning. He knows the purpose is not to showcase his own talents. He likes to make his teammates look good and contribute toward team victory.
5. Finally, the real team player is in the game even though he might not be on the playing field. Spiritually, this means the team player remembers as part of the body of Christ he is always there to worship, to pray, to help others on the team.
This article “Characteristics Of Authentic Christians” by Richard D. Dobbins is excerpted from Guidelines For Good Living, published by From This Day Forward, Vol. VI, No. 71.