It’s Better If We Keep The Façade.

I like this church, but…

Recently I heard a story on why a visitor did not return to the new church in town.  This could be anyone in Anytown, America.  And I believe this describes a fundamental flaw in our Christianity.  When asked why they didn’t come to the church again, the woman responded that she did not agree with women being permitted to preach.  That’s because she came to visit when one of the women on staff gave the message.  I know, I know. It is kinda funny for a woman to not like women preachers. But I guess the prejudice goes across gender lines.  But when she was pressed a little more, she said she didn’t like how transparent the person speaking was. The lady didn’t like how raw and open the speaker was in sharing her personal story of God’s work in her life.  Now, as I transition back to life in the US, I am becoming acutely aware of the American culture, especially, the American, Christian culture.  And the happy plastic smiles that accompany people to church as they pretend everything is okay just don’t cut it for me anymore.  Where did we get the notion that having it altogether shows that we are better Christians? That a visitor didn’t like the message being so raw with personal trials shows a disconnect from what God is really trying to do in us. Aren’t we all works in progress?  I am not sure where it started, but somewhere in our “can do” culture, we have equated struggle with weakness. Yet scripture says that struggle is what leads us to maturity (James 1:2). We feel that if we are suffering that God has abandoned us.  We feel that if we are broken, that the enemy is winning.  We are conquerors.  No, we are more than conquerors.  So why should we have to deal with pain? These are all great questions, but pretending that pain and suffering don’t exist only perpetuates the hypocrisy deep in the American culture.  I don’t know.  Maybe I am plane weird, but I thought authenticity should be a hallmark of Christianity.  I like reading the stories of the Bible and seeing that the great heroes of our faith were flawed like me.  And more than that, I think one of the beautiful things about the Christian faith is that we can be broken.  Our faith is not about being perfect but being redeemed.  We worship a God that finds us in the mire and pulls us out.  He picks us up and sets our feet on the rock (Psalms 40).  He takes a heap of brokenness and turns us into something beautiful.  His grace shines through our humble brokenness.  When we act like we have it altogether, we are conveying a message that we can save ourselves through enough pure determination. But when we talk about our true struggle, we show how only God can transform us.

broken-manOn the same note, I was recently at a meeting where George Barna detailed his latest in depth research on transformation (The importance of Brokenness) . He pretty much has found few Christians make it along the journey to transformation. He has found that brokenness is a key step in the process to our lives becoming what God wants them to be.  If we neglect or avoid this process, we will only be superficial Christians. We will lack the power and ability to impact this world.  Barna said we need to die to sin, self and society.  I think the woman above typifies many who think that we don’t die, but we live victorious. We don’t need to let people see our flaws.  Maybe if we did, the church could see what God wanted, a redeemed and restored people.  Let’s work on becoming more open rather than less.  What do you think prevents us from being more transparent, especially as Christian leaders ?

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