For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21, esv).
Wouldn’t you love for someone to describe you as authentic?
“She is authentic—completely true to herself.”
“I think of him as authentic—the real deal.”
Authentic refers to the original article, the real thing—not a phony knock-off or cheap imitation. Authentic doesn’t necessarily mean unique. A craftsman may produce many authentic pieces. These objects conform to an original ideal or pattern so as to faithfully reproduce the essential features. They’re true, genuine, and real.
Being described as authentic is a high compliment. Those who are authentic are truly themselves, or who they are meant to be, in the best sense of the idea. We instinctively want to emulate authentic, genuine human beings—but these people are often hard to find.
Becoming an authentic person is an easy goal to set but hard to live out under scrutiny. Our standard for authenticity is Jesus Christ. He’s the real original. This is not only true because He is our Maker and therefore qualified to tell us how to live authentically, but He is also our ultimate model. Humanly speaking, He was in every way our perfect example.
In fact, the Christian life could be described as learning to live faithfully as an authentic imitation of Jesus.
We can’t duplicate what Jesus did, but we can imitate Him. Jesus said, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master” (Matthew 10:25). Will we ever perfectly imitate Him? No. But it’s enough for us to be like Him, and the more we become like Jesus, the more we will be living an authentic life.
Committed Christians across the centuries have demonstrated that there are certain practices that can lead to a deepening and sharpening of our likeness to Christ. The goal isn’t frantic performance to prove a point. Authenticity isn’t forced – rather, human authenticity includes room for failure. Admission of error and genuine repentance are definitely marks of authenticity.
The disciplines of a sincere faith are practical ways to “follow in his steps.” Authentic Christians don’t drift in and out of Jesus’ steps or wander in roughly the same direction as His steps—we “follow in his steps.”
Jesus taught and practiced certain spiritual disciplines, which is how we know they’re worth repeating. When we practice them as He did, we are setting our feet in His very footprints.
Father, if we are imitations of one thing, may it be of Your Son, Jesus. We will never be perfectly like Him on this side of heaven, but we can become increasingly like Him. In fact, “it is enough” for us to be like our Teacher. Teach us to “follow in his steps,” to practice spiritual disciplines as an expression of love and admiration for Jesus, not as an empty attempt to earn Your favor. God, You are the one who sanctifies us and works in us to make us more authentic imitations of Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray, amen.