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Keeping It Real


"Keeping it real" is a phrase that originated in urban ghettos in America. It is currently becoming a popular American cliché. Urbandictionary.com defines it as "staying true to yourself, your faith, your life and constantly seeking the truth." Famed African American Civil Rights Activist, Al Sharpton, even has a daily national talk radio program, called "Keeping it Real, with Al Sharpton".

With such wide-spread use of the phrase, you would think that we would have a society where truth and sincerity flourishes. But that is not the case. The main reason for this is because, while people are okay to use the term as a sort of secret handshake, precious few people are willing to actually take the time to THINK about what the term really means; and even fewer people are willing to actually put it into practice in their own lives. Really "keeping it real" requires you to stick with the truth, even if it makes you look bad personally.

Continuing, The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers, was founded in England in the 17th century as a Christian religious denomination by people who were dissatisfied with the existing denominations and sects of Christianity. Quakers are famous for a phrase that describes a combination of honesty and equality in our dealings with others, and an ability to treat all others equally. The term is called plain speech.

Now most of us think of honesty in a legalistic type of fashion, with regard to things like never telling a lie, or not stealing pens from work. But real honesty goes deeper than that. Real honesty, the kind of honesty that Jesus taught, requires us to be brutally honest with the ones that matter most -- God, and ourselves. I'll show you what I mean.

Most of us have experienced situations involving other people in our day to day dealings where we have not been entirely honest, for one reason or another. A homeless man may ask us for money, and we tell him that we don't have any money -- knowing for certain that we DO actually have money on our person, but just don't WANT to share it. But rather than tell the homeless guy that, we distort the truth, because it is easier. I know. We all do it. But this is exactly what plain speech seeks to help us overcome.

Furthermore, in another place in the Bible, we read that if we would confess our sins, our fears, our disagreements, our delusions, our weaknesses, etc., we could be "cleansed from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) And most of us would pay lip service to the truth in this statement, theologically.

However, the problem arises whenever it comes to being SPECIFIC with regard to our sins, our fears, our delusions, and so on. People may be more than happy to offer a vague statement about us all being sinners, but precious few are willing to truly humble themselves to the point of sharing exactly how it was that they sinned, and exactly what it is that they are afraid of. Yet, if they did, they would soon realize that God forgives them (because they confessed their sins, first), and that their fears are in fact irrational, being exposed as the lie that they are when seen in the light. There really is power in the light; and yet you can never experience that wonder-working power towards salvation without first "fessing up".

Jesus established a grievance system, as recorded in Matthew 18:15-17, where one Christian could approach another in order to resolve tensions. In fact, Jesus went so far as to COMMAND us to confront our brother (or sister) if that person sins against us. So it is beyond optional. But you would be lucky to find one Christian in ten (and probably in a hundred) that consistently puts this practice into action. Most are more than happy to discuss disagreements they have with the other person behind that person's back (better read murmuring or gossiping), but precious few are actually willing to do what is really necessary to resolve tensions, which is to work them out with the other person face to face. The way to do this, once again, is through plain speech.

There are several proverbs in the Old Testament about criticisms from friends being more beneficial than flattery from enemies. And we read in Ephesians 4:15 an admonition from Paul for us to speak the truth in love. These are all references to plain speech. You don't pretend things are peachier with the other person than they really are, as that just leads to hypocrisy. Rather, you "keep it real" by sharing your disagreements, your criticisms, and whatever tensions you may be feeling towards the other person, with the other person. And you do it as lovingly as possible. That is the way to really "keep it real", which so much of the world continues to miss to their own peril.

Refuse to do that, and about the "realest" you will be able to keep it, is real dumb!

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