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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Be Real" (Rick Bezet)

TITLE: Be Real: Because Fake Is Exhausting
AUTHOR: Rick Bezet
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014, (208 pages).

Let's stop playing hide and seek with one another and quit being fake. That is because being fake is exhausting and being real is liberating. This is the central thesis by founder and lead pastor of New Life Church in Arkansas, one of America's fastest growing churches. Don't know who is Rick Bezet? He is also founder director of the Association of Related Churches (ARC). Still don't register anything? Well, he pastors the very church that the winner of the eighth season of American Idol attends: Kris Allen. So what's the real deal? It is not Kris Allen but the need to put off falsehood and fake personalities and to be real to one another. Likewise, Bezet's reference to Allen stops here as being real does not mean he rides on the famous singer's name forever.

So what does it take to be real? Bezet offers us lots of tips in ten chapters of passionate pleas that soak with honesty, humour, and hope. He uncovers the hidden background of why people tend to hide themselves. Why do they find it difficult to tell the whole truth? He acknowledges that being real can be hard work just like Jacob who wrestles with God openly and gets a new name. He shows us the power of community to create a life of openness and trust. He goes on to assure us that the tendency for people to put on fake fronts is also common in ancient biblical times. Just as God has shown His faithfulness to many people in the past, He can also do the same for us now.

What does it take to be real? Forgiveness is a major attribute that sets people free. Real forgiveness never forgets because that is true grace in action. It is unconditional. It is liberating. Being real also strengthens our human relationships. That is because we are made to be real people. As we draw closer to God, we will realize that we simply just need to be real to God, to others, and to ourselves. Bezet also tackles the barriers to authenticity by showing us how to resolve conflicts. Conflicts arise from "five hate languages," each of them an opposite to Gary Chapman's classic work on the five love languages. Instead of the language of giving, taking; instead of serving, defensiveness; instead of quality time, indifference; instead of physical touch, physical abuse; instead of positive words, negativity and sarcasm. Being real means using the extinguishers of encouragement and kindness to fight the fires of hate. Bezet then addresses the topic of fear which almost always is the reason why people hide. He gives four "confidence builders."

  1. It's not about winning, competing, or getting ahead. It's the people we serve.
  2. Show interest in others regardless of how we feel.
  3. Practice patience, even with people we do not like.
  4. Step out in faith and courage.
Bezet closes the book with a rallying call to all to rely on God more. For in Christ, we will learn what it means to be truly free. We can then participate in God's kingdom that frees others to be themselves.

So What?

This book's central idea is about being real to God, to people, and most importantly to ourselves. The accusations of hypocrisy are still commonly hurled at Christians both inside and outside of the Church; from both Christians as well as non-Christians. It can be perceptions or it can be misinformation. Whatever it is, we need to learn to begin where we are. Bezet has written a very down to earth book about being human and the importance to be real. It is fun to play hide-and-seek when we are kids. When we are grown up, we cannot thrive in any environment of pretense or fake personalities. Even when we watch movies, we prefer to see actors really acting out the roles as real as possible. Reality TV shows are only as real as the name suggests. There is always a tendency for shows like these to iron up the kinks or cover up the ugly parts. For participants, they are faced with a challenge. Do they be real only when it profits them? More importantly, is it worth it to win on a false persona rather than one's true self? I have read somewhere that clowns often have episodes of depression. In wanting to make people laugh, clowns have to do things that do not necessarily reflect their true selves. One study shows that clowns often experience misunderstanding, anger, suspicion, approval-seeking, and of course depression.

There are more upsides to being real than being fake. Precisely because fake is exhaustive and authenticity is liberating. For anyone finding it tough to be themselves, maybe this book will be a good resource to kick-start our journey to discovering the power of God in helping us be real to God, to others, and to ourselves.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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