What makes life real? What makes us say things like, "They seem like real people" or what do we mean by, "Let's just be real for a minute." As humans, we long to live real lives, to have real friends and to have real conversations. But often, I think we struggle to define what that desire means and what being real looks like in this world. For the purpose of this blog post, I would like to define being "real" with these four attributes supported by scripture.
1. To be real is to be honest.
"As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person."
Proverbs 27:19 NLT
2. To be real is to be present.
"There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24 NLT
3. To be real is to be humble.
"For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."
Colossians 3:3 NLT
4. To be real is to be selfless.
"Anyone who sets himself up as 'religious' by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world."
James 1:26-27 MSG
If being real is being honest, present, humble and selfless in our day-to-day lives, it shouldn't be a surprise that finding people that seem "real" is so rare and yet so refreshing. I would guess that many of us don't feel like we have many real friends or wish that we could have more real conversations with people. I would also guess that with this definition of "real" now in mind, we have had even fewer real conversations and friends. That's because, being "real" is hard. I would say, by this definition, that I personally fail at living a "real" life roughly 90% of the time.
I constantly wrestle with being selfless on a daily basis. I often want to just do what I want, instead of happily putting others first with no expectations of reciprocation for my lost time. I see this, the most, in my relationships at home, with my wife and with my kids. The people that I should be the most willing and eager to reach out to and love on.
I struggle to stay present throughout a day. Electronic devices are a big part of this. Social media, phone calls, text messages, pictures and video calls can all play double agents in this modern cacophonic dance of digital content and connectivity. I often find myself at odds with staying up to date and present in the lives of people that live distantly by failing to be present in the lives I actually live with.
Humility is a tricky one to pin down through self-assessment, but as a whole I know that it is a thing that ebbs and flows in my personal life. It is something that I am always striving for, but the knowledge of achieving it often chases it away. The basis of true humility is this:
I am not greater then anyone else. My value and worth rest not in anything that I have done or achieved, but wholly rest in who I am in Jesus Christ. Without His grace and the gift of eternal life, I would be a sinner and my life would be forfeit. Therefore, I live humbly by placing Jesus Christ at the center of everything and placing myself last.
Honestly being honest is something I value quite a lot, but is also one of the biggest black marks in my past. For that reason, I make it a point to be honest with everyone. So while in this current chapter of my life, I can say this is not an issue, I would also have to say that I can see how this could one day be a big issue again and so I am extremely conscientious of it.
So there you have it. Go forth and judge everyone around you to this standard! And if they don't measure up make sure you reprimand them for it. Including me.
Or... we can extend grace to the people that we know that may not seem "real" to us and be real friends to them in return. We could place our efforts and focus internally so that we can be more "real" with others in our lives. The truth is that living real lives is impossible without God. We will never achieve real life without Gods grace to us and we will never have real friends, family and relationships without first offering others the same grace that was first offered us.
Please purpose to live real lives everyday. Our world sorely needs more real people in this time of social and political unrest. Be a light to the world pointing to Jesus, instead of just another one of the masses pointing fingers at others.