I was struck by the story about the great illustrator Gustave Doré who created artwork for such literary pieces as Milton’s "Paradise Lost" and Dante’s "The Divine Comedy." Doré was wandering the mountains of Switzerland when officials came upon him and demanded a passport. “I do not have it with me,” the artist replied. “But my name is Doré.” “Prove it,” demanded the officials, knowing who Doré was but not being certain that the wandering man was telling the truth.

The artist took paper and a pencil from his backpack and began to skillfully and beautifully sketch a group of peasants standing nearby.

“Enough,” said the officials. “No question; you are Doré.”

It is far less important for the watching world to hear me say I’m following Jesus than to actually see me follow Him with authenticity. All the “doing” in the universe is no substitute for being, knowing, thinking and doing in the likeness of God as the Israel of God (being the light of the world and salt of the earth). 

Some time ago, in my own study, I put together 10 essential things to help myself live an authentic life. With these as my starting point for reality, I greatly improve my ability to “prove” to the “officials” that I’m a man who is actually following Jesus. When I get lost and start to lose my identity, I preach these essentials to myself. Here, at the start of 2004, I offer them for your consideration:

1. There is only one creator God and not many gods. God is a tri-personal being: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He created man and woman to be His direct representatives on Earth.

2. Don’t throw away your confidence, your hope, your belief in the truth of the Son, Jesus, and His teaching.

3. Christianity was never about religion. What Jesus offered then and now is a new opportunity for life, a new way to be human – one inescapably connected to Himself, His life, death, resurrection and the future re-creation of everything.

4. The new way to be human begins with faith and repentance. These, along with love, define the “Jesus way.” They are the only good responses to hearing the good news of God’s rescue initiative. God tells a person: “This is what I have planned. This is what I will accomplish.” The man or woman replies: “Good plan; I believe You. I was headed in the wrong direction. By faith I’ll walk with You instead.”

5. Be passionate about the Story. Remember: You can’t be passionate about something you don’t know. Step into the Story with intentionality and intensity.

6. Character and lifestyle changes have always come with following Jesus. Cooperate with the Spirit. There’s freedom in following, freedom from all forms of enslavement and addiction (those that come from within and from without).

7. Involve yourself in diverse community whenever it’s in your power to do so. Better yet, seek it out and sponsor it. All people are welcome in the Kingdom. Make choices that say you believe this is true.

8. Emphasize quality over quantity. Quantity is about power. It’s hard to be in a relationship with quantity. It comes in with its chest puffed up, makes initial impact and then vanishes into a fog of busyness and superiority. Quality, on the other hand, hangs out and invites critique, meditation and communication. It is not in a hurry.

9. Let the Story and the new way of Jesus reinvent your understanding of wealth. Whatever you have, be rich toward God. Invest in what He’s interested in. As far as tithing goes, forget it. In the new way, student/followers give 100 percent. You pray, “God, everything I have is from You. How do You want me to use it in making the Kingdom visible and declaring Your rightness and excellence?”