President Obama was the first sitting president to be a late-night television guest. His visit last July to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart marked his fifteenth such appearance. 2016 presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and possible candidate Joe Biden have all made the late-night rounds. Hillary Clinton has been on Ellen, was interviewed by Lena Dunham, and appeared on Saturday Night Live last weekend.
Why do presidents and aspiring presidents seek such comedic exposure? Because authenticity is vital to popularity today. According to political analyst Ken Walsh, the most likable candidate has won every presidential contest since 1980.
Authenticity is important not only for political leaders, but for anyone seeking to impact today’s culture. Consider the recent visit of Pope Francis to America. A crowd of 15,000 gathered to see him outside the White House; more than 80,000 followed his procession through New York City’s Central Park; hundreds of thousands turned out for his final Mass in Philadelphia. He dominated news coverage during his stay. Why?
Our postmodern culture is skeptical of truth claims, but yearns for truth tellers. People jaded by selfish ambition hunger for transparent compassion. When the pope washes the feet of Muslims, kisses people with disfiguring diseases, and lives with frugal simplicity, the world takes note. (For more, please see my Why Is The Pope So Popular?)
Authenticity is not only the best way to impact others—it is the best way to approach God. (Tweet this)
We are invited to “draw near to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). This invitation is not earned. A wise friend recently remarked that most of us view grace as the way God elevates us from a B+ to an A. In reality, it’s how he elevates us from an F to an A. Author Jerry Bridges was right: “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace, and your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”
King David observed, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). The more we know we need grace, the more we experience the grace we need.
When we let God be God and let ourselves be his dependent children, we align ourselves with his purpose and walk in his power. And our culture is drawn to the authenticity of Christ in us. (Tweet this)
Shakespeare could have been speaking of our television-dominated culture when he observed, “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players.” But one day the stage will be gone, and the players will spend eternity with God or separated from him. What will you do today to show Jesus to those who share the stage with you?
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”