Well, anyway, the other day someone said that what he admired about Uni and me was that we are “real.” I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, so I checked out my Webster’s. None of the definitions given seemed to fit, especially in the context he was speaking of. The closest I could find to what I think he meant was, “not artificial, fraudulent or illusory: GENUINE.” I like that. I certainly would like that to be true of me. Sort of like Flip Wilson’s Geraldine, “What you sees is what you gets!”
Well, then, the next question is, is realness a Christian virtue, something to be desired? I couldn’t find it in any of the lists of virtues listed in the New Testament.
But the New Testament does have a lot to say about truth, and truth has to do with that which is real. Would it be to great a logical leap to say that to “be real” is to be, as the apostle John says, “walking in truth”?
John uses this expression three times in his letters:
- “I was extremely glad that I found some of your children walking in truth …” (2 John 4).
- “For I was extremely glad when some brothers came and testified of your truth, even as you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this that I hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 3, 4).
I’m not sure exactly what John meant by “walking in truth,” but in his writings I find three ways this can be true of a person:
- Doctrinal purity, especially a correct understanding of who Jesus is. John has much to say about this in his three brief letters. He warns, “ … many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh … Watch yourselves” (2 John 7, 8). “Who is the liar, but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? … Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father. The one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22, 23). We can’t “walk in truth” unless we hold to the truth about the One who claimed to be The Truth (John 14:6).
- But it also includes a correct understanding of who we are – honestly about ourselves. “If we say we have fellowship with Him and we walk in darkness, we’re lying and we’re not doing the truth … If we say we don’t have sin, we’re deceiving ourselves and the truth isn’t in us … If we say we haven’t sinned, we make Him a liar …” (1 John 1:6, 8, 10). John’s remedy for deception is simple: “Confess our sins” and “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7, 9). So here’s a paradox. I can’t be real unless I admit that I’m not! “Walking in truth” involves recognizing and confessing to God that I often fall short in this walk.
- And it involves a continual fellowship with and growing conformity to Jesus Christ. Perhaps that’s why the word “walk” is used. It implies motion, something that must continue all my life. This is, I believe, that aspect of walking in truth that can be seen.
It is easy to put on the outward trappings, to be a different person on Sunday than we are during the week, or even to be a number of different persons. It is also easy to compare ourselves with others who are doing the same. But when we honestly compare ourselves with Jesus, recognizing who He is and who we are, when we allow Him to bring us into greater conformity with Him, I believe we can, to some extent, be “real.”
I’m not there yet!