Posts Tagged ‘Authenticity’


Authenticity. Not succumbing to useless prattling, or derogatory yelling to beef up one’s own view as the right way. Living authentically. This is what John writes in his third epistle. As the structure relates around 90-100 CE, the gatherings are becoming more structured and uniform. A drastic change for the Sacred Service communities founded on the Commandment of Love. Worries arising not only in John’s old soul, but in members from the short words he writes that eventually it will be more about pomp and ceremony instead of substance and community.

The Elder,

To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in [a]truth

-Epistle of 3 John 1-4 (New King James Version)

John reminds the facilitator and leader of the community that there is an authentic vocation in his divine heart for the work within the community. John knows this because others, not Gaius, share what has happened. It is an inversion of today’s world where we are asked why we are good fits, what matters, where we expect those above us to note how great we are. Yet, what John lays out is that the greatest compliment and understanding is when those you serve, are the ones that share the truth about you:

Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren [b]and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive[c] such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.

-Epistle of 3 John 5-8 (New King James Version)

Doing good not expecting to gain anything from it, but the simple act itself. Knowing that if there is enough ripples created in the darkness by pockets of light…

The darkness shrinks away for the new dawn.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating[d] against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, [e]but he who does evil has not seen God.

12 Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also [f]bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.

-Epistle of 3 John 9-12 (New King James Version)

Injured pride. One who did not earn leadership whether it be from within the community with or without title. Turned out in hate and anger, reaping fear and in-hospitality.  Only walking the talk when there is someone there to acknowledge and spread the story or something to be gained. Does this sound familiar? How easily one can be swayed into this idealization of ego that masquerades as good works. In the end it is actually darkness dressed up in fancy clothes.

Missing the point of the act of love.

I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.

Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

-Epistle 3 John 13-14 (New King James Version)

And John ends with what community is about. Yes correspondence is good, but not as good as face to face conversation. Sharing of meals (coffee) and discussion for growth.


Prayer of faith. Pretty strong words are coming from James. Yet prayer is something that his brother spoke about quite a bit before he was lynched. Brother Jesus spoke out against showy-falsity and being authentic in the mystic aspect of our lives. Why? Because it allows us to break through the world imposed soundtrack of our lives, to the one at our true core…the core fashioned and resonating within the Holy Mystery.

That is James’ first step when someone is suffering, afflicted, ill or troubled even. Take time to centre our very being into our true nature. Yet even James understands there are times when this can be an impossibility, so this spills from his scribes’ quill:

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[a] 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

-Epistle of James 5:13-20 (English Standard Version)

Notice the words first before we jump into the role of Elders. The words of centering in life regardless of what is thrown at us. In Franciscan Charism it is called “Daily Examin”; not a time of counting the F’up list, but rather honestly looking at your day for times of growth, opportunity, regret, fulfillment, reconciliation and blessing. Truly turning your day into a Psalm, just like James counsels here, to be in contemplation constantly.

Yet he also touches on those moments when we cannot see who we are. When we are lost in the woods, or have veered off the path illuminated by the light, when we are Peter walking on water and look down and fall. Those moments of doubt when the soundtrack of the world sucks us into believing we are only good enough based on bank account, societal ladder labels, power amassing or material goods. Those are the moments when we seek out the Elders. Today the term may be prayer counsellor; mentor; life coach; spiritual director; those people that can see through the B.S. we are drowning in and bring us back to our core.

This is the authentic you. The you others within the Holy Mystery see you as, and when we journey together we see the love that made us, and the intrinsic value within us.

The Epistle of James is a prayer of faith to the early church and the church now. It is the little brother’s reminder that structures, fancy words, worldly power, or money or great shows do not matter. If it is all upon the surface it is for nought. The transformation for integrity and authenticity goes deep to our core, by burning away the muck of our souls to be who we are truly meant to be in community.

It was termed the Epistle of Straw and derided throughout history for that very reason. It is the words like those of Jesus of Nazareth in the original gospel, challenging the status quo. Challenging through a very simple concept, that would be recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (and the text that got me to attend church at 19 years old):

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Gospel of Matthew 22:34- 40 (ESV)

And the simple task put before us, was to simply go and do like wise in L-O-V-E (no qualifiers).