Are you generic?

Suppose your organization is hosting an art sale as a fundraiser. You usually sell art from the community - some good, some not so good. This year, however, someone donated their entire library of historic art to your sale. You have a Michelangelo, a Rembrandt, a Picasso, a Monet. They are worth millions each. However, the advertising committee doesn't want to scare away the usual clientele of low bidders looking for local pieces at a good price. They decide to leave out the famous paintings and go with their standard poster verbage highlighting local artists.

The day of the sale finally arrives. Quite a stir ensues, as people realize what you've been hiding: Picasso's painting is risque. Monet's is mistaken for a cheap hotel print. No one likes how "lumpy" the vibrant oils of Rembrandt's painting are in real life. The Michelangelo is of (gasp!) a naked man. Most of your usual buyers walk out, disgruntled when they discover the grand scope of this year's sale. Later, you hear from several serious art collectors who are deeply disappointed and slightly angry that they weren't notified of your acquisitions.

Nobody likes to be sucked in with wrong information. 

We do this type of misrepresentation everyday. Reports indicate that this has become even more rampant with the advent of social media: we disclose only a small corner of our lives, the cleaned up, funny, and happy parts of our lives. I am guilty of this all the time. Just this morning, my Facebook status read: "After 2 months of hockey, I finally feel like I am back. Never thought this day would come!" I didn't really have space - or desire - to share that the first two periods of the scrimmage my muscles were cramped and screaming pain, and I had to breathe through it to survive, like childbirth. This status reads kind of like I am a fit jock, instead of the overtired, overweight, and out-of-shape 30-something I really am.

The most glaring way we represent ourselves incorrectly is in regards to our faith or belief system. Christians wear that label on their lapel but shy away from sharing their Gospel - which has always divided rather than unified - unless pressed to do so. We tout lifestyle evangelism - living our faith quietly instead of proselytizing. We tame our beliefs and only exercise them in small groups of like-minded people and perhaps the quiet seclusion of the voting booth. Many atheists and agnostics represent their beliefs as scientific, cool and collected - hiding the deep passion they feel for their religion and disdain they feel for mainstream Christian "sheep" who've been brainwashed or simply "go with the flow" rather than owning their faith. Wiccan and other religions in the margins face stigma by calling themselves "alternative faith practitioners".

Another analogy is found within my professional sphere: generics pretend to be the real thing, but they aren't even close. Sythroid is the Rembrandt of thyroid cancer meds, and levothyroxine, it's generic counterpart, is a cheap print of the real thing, faded and poor quality. Generic medicine is held to a different standard than name-brand. To maintain their trademarks and reputation, brand-name companies test every dose for accuracy and allow only a 1-3% fluctuation in the amount of medication delivered by each pill, capsule, or ounce of fluid. Generic manufacturers are held responsible by FDA regulations that state every dose must be within 20% of the advertised amount - allowing those generics in your medicine cabinet to fluctuate by as much as 40% per pill. Generics are tested at random by the FDA, and a single company could go decades without any testing being done on their products.


not protected by trademark registration: “Cola” and “shuttle”are generic terms.

Do you wear "Christian" with a capital C, representing the radical and revolutionary faith birthed by Christ, the great martyr and singular salvation, the God-man? Or with a generic small "c", joining the millions who profess this faith without ever sharing it with a soul or getting in touch with the God who invented it? Is your faith at full-strength, or do you fluctuate by 40%, dosing low for the public and high for your small group members? Are you holding a portrait of faith that is a hotel-quality print that won't offend anyone, or a stunning masterpiece that inspires both love and hate from it's audience?

I am issuing a challenge - to myself along with all who read here. Own it. Memorize a few things that really epitomize your beliefs: John 3:16, the Apostles' Creed, a paragraph from your favorite author. Be prepared to talk about your faith. Don't just live it...tell people about your passion as well. In my experience, honesty and transparency equal a life full of diversity AND true relationships. If you are toning down your faith to keep up acquaintances or appearances, you are doing nobody a favor. If you're hiding a Rembrandt in your closet, and your walls are covered with posters, how do you even know if people really like you at all? I prefer to share my zealous faith with people who love God 100% as much as I do, and refresh my faith spending time with people who 100% disagree with me.

This year, purpose to own the trademark of your faith, and hold yourself accountable to higher standards as you engage with people in your real life world.

Joining Joy for life:unmasked today.