Unwrapping Authenticity

Insights from The Weekly REBOOT

By: Evan Owens

This week, we launched the all-new Weekly REBOOT. This is an idea that Jenny and I have had for years and the time to bring it to life has finally come. Our vision is that each week, graduates from across the country come together in small groups and continue their healing journey together – building on all they learned during the initial 12-week course. 

In many ways, this mirrors the way we did things in the early days of REBOOT. So in light of that, I thought it would be fun to begin the same way we began our first military course way back in 2010. 

Imagine that I am holding a beautiful present in my hand. The corners are perfectly wrapped, the paper vibrant and colorful. By all accounts, this is a beautiful present. If we were to attend a gift exchange, you would probably pick this box. After all, someone went to the trouble of wrapping a real box, rather than just shoving something in a bag and tossing some tissue paper in it like I do!

The Illusion of Beauty

Based on the beautiful wrapping job, you would probably assume that something special was inside. But what if you opened it to find that there was nothing but emptiness inside? Or, what if I told you that this box was full of pain, sadness, and loneliness? Would you still want the present?

I’m afraid this is the path that many REBOOT graduates walk. We come to a REBOOT course, and we don’t even have the energy or strength to put up a good front. The wrapping paper on our lives is torn and dingy. Our lid is falling off, and the contents are spilling out onto the floor for all to see. We have no other choice than to let people in because we know that continuing to pretend will only lead us to more pain.

So we open up. We share, and we start to heal. We dump out the contents of guilt, shame, grief, bitterness, and regret on the floor and get our gift box ready for the blessings that we believe are coming.

And we do experience healing. We’ve been sick for so long that this little bit of healing can actually feel like complete healing. It is as if we have been sick with a fever and our fever has finally broken. Even though our fever broke, we still need to continue healing before we get back to our regular routine. Rushing back to our daily schedule too soon could set us back and keep us sick. 

I have always loved cooking shows.
I think of those cooking segments on the morning shows where some chef comes in and teaches the audience how to make a dish. They mix all of the ingredients together into a pan and toss it into the oven. Somehow, miraculously, the magic oven cooks a perfectly finished dish in under 3 seconds as they pull out a ready-to-eat dish just seconds after putting in the raw ingredients. Then we see everyone taking a bite and gushing over how delicious it is.

Authenticity in Faith

Is it possible that we treat REBOOT the same way? We graduate and gush over the miraculous healing we’ve experienced in only a few short weeks. Could it be that just as it takes more than 3 seconds to cook a meal, it takes more than a few REBOOT sessions to heal from the deeper wounds of trauma.

Let’s read a story found in Mark 11:12-21.

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

Counterfeit Living

In order to understand the true meaning, we have to read it in context. This is a story about counterfeit living. It is a story about looking one way and acting another.

This story takes place as Jesus is on his way to the temple. The temple in Jerusalem was a very important place. It was the heart of Israel’s religious life and the very symbol of their national identity. By all accounts, the temple was the apex of Jewish spiritual activity.

Here we see Jesus on his way to the temple – a place where we would expect him to see evidence of prayer and faith. Yet when he arrives, he sees none. Instead, he sees a den of robbers. People capitalizing on the kingdom. He sees a culture of legalism – where people are doing all the right things and checking the boxes, but not bearing any fruit. He sees ceremony but no sacrifice.

It is an inauthentic faith – a fake faith.

The story of the fig tree is a prophetic symbol of the wrath coming to the Jews.

Matthew 23:37 says,

““Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

For generations, God has tried to bring his people close to him, and yet when He, in the form of Jesus, the king of glory, enters the temple, there is no heed to his warning of the coming wrath. They continue about their business as if the king of kings isn’t even in the room.

Fig trees are supposed to have leaves when they are ready to bear fruit. As Jesus approached the tree, it looked to be in full bloom. Yet, when he went to eat some of its fruit, it had none. He cursed it because it was pretending to be something that it wasn’t.

The Call to Authenticity

REBOOT has to be an authentic community. If we show leaves but produce no fruit, what have we truly accomplished? If we pretend to be better, more righteous, more healed than we actually are, what have we gained? 

The Goal of REBOOT

The goal of REBOOT is that you would bear fruit. Fruit of love, joy, peace, and patience. But that fruit can only be produced if the roots of your life are authentically planted in good soil.

The barren fig tree is emblematic of someone that promises to satisfy the hungry heart, but when we get up to it, there’s nothing to satisfy.

I want to challenge you to be authentic. REBOOT doesn’t have to be a cooking show that you enter into a 12-week course and voila, you are totally healed. You don’t have to come to The Weekly REBOOT with your gift box perfectly wrapped, and you shouldn’t feel the pressure to show a lot of leaves if the fruit and roots are where they need to be.

REBOOT is a time to be authentic. So make it count.

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