Coloring Inside The Lines

The following is a guest post from my little brother, Jeffrey Bryant.  Jeff is incredibly intelligent and talented and has a knack for writing and story-telling (not to mention the fact that he is dangerously funny).  I have been trying to convince him to start a blog for some time now with no luck.  Leave a comment and help me convince him!

From the beginning of time, people have always been told to “color inside the lines.”  If we go outside the boundaries, the picture just will not look good anymore.  But what happens when we are coloring the picture of our life?  It becomes a situation where we must set our own boundaries.  Every person we come in contact with is  a different color, and every thing that happens is a page in the coloring book.

So we go through our lives, coloring this and coloring that, trying so hard to decide where we belong.  And we do our best to organize our lives – to sort all the different crayons in the box.  We may do it one color together.  Or maybe even by which colors we use the most.  And sometimes other colors hurts us.  But more often, we hurt other colors.  We may try to blame them for the scribbled mess that is our life, but everything that happens is a result of stepping outside the boundaries.

Coloring outside the lines is a bold step to take, but it is still one that must be taken.  If we color inside the lines, like we have always been taught, then new knowledge, new pain, new joy – these things will never come.  But when we step outside our boundaries – outside our comfort zone – things start to happen, and new pictures are created.  They are the things of our imagination, not someone else’s.

When we color outside the lines, it is a picture of ourselves – a portrait of what we have been through; our insecurities, our fears, our secret desires, our hopes, and our dreams.  So a challenge has been placed before each of us.  But it is more than a challenge; it is an opportunity.  Are we going to stay inside the lines and be “comfortable”? Or are we going to step outside our boundaries – risking ridicule, pain, fearing everything and everyone around us in order to reveal our very essence and creat a true portrait of ourselves?  As for me, I choose to always “color” OUTSIDE the lines!

Artificial Authenticity

I have recently been reading the wonderful book The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells.  This is a great read which I highly recommend to anyone who is involved in ministry.  I read a section of the book yesterday that really intrigued me.  Mr. Wells deals with the shift of focus in western culture from character to personality.

Allow me to explain (I didn’t understand what he meant at first either).  It used to be that a person was judged by their character (i.e. who they are in private, what they stand for publically and privately).  I’ve heard it said many times that the only contract they had in those days was a handshake.  Not so much anymore.  Character has taken a back seat to personality.  People don’t seem too concerned about the inside (you know, the part God sees), they are preoccupied with what other people see.  (btw, I’m not just thinking of holiness)

One of the buzzwords of the day is Authenticity.  Some have even given placed authenticity at the highest place of importance for business in the future.  We hear it a lot; be authentic, authentic worship, authentic ministry, authentic relationships, etc.  Maybe “buzzword” isn’t fair.  I don’t have anything against being authentic; in fact, I embrace the idea that we should be authentic (in our worship, ministry, relationships, etc.).  The problem is, too often, authenticity is applied to the personality, and not to the character.

As a result, the term, “authenticity” is misconstrued to mean the projection of the personality.  As long as we are “being real” in our interactions with people, the character of the person behind the image is hidden and irrelevant…for now.  But a person’s character will always come to light.  (Oops!  Um…You character is showing!)

True authenticity starts with the character and works itself out into the personality.  If I want to “be real”, it must start on the inside, and too often, the inside is something that we don’t even want to look at, let alone let others see.  What we need is an authentic move of the Holy Ghost in our lives that will change us, starting with the character and working out to our personality.

That is authentic authenticity!