“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” (Matthew 23:25-26)
I live in a house full of women. I should clarify — my wife and two daughters. This is way too much estrogen for one man so I had to get a couple of male Golden Retrievers to even things out. There ARE some real perks to living in a predominately female home though! My girls are all great cooks, I get to watch all the Nicholas Sparks movies I can stomach, and I get a peek into the world of women. I learned that when you say ‘I have nothing to wear’ that’s not really true, you just don’t like the stuff that is currently IN your closet! I’ve learned that the ‘up do’ usually means you didn’t have time to wash your hair…..lastly, I’ve learned about SPANX. SPANX is this amazing undergarment that you squeeze yourself into, and suddenly you have a perfect body!! Brilliant!! You may have seen the founder of SPANX, Sara Blakely on ‘Shark Tank’. She is worth over a billion dollars. So popular is the idea, men are following suit. Yes, SPANX for men. (This man does NOT nor will he ever wear SPANX….. but Under Armour is pretty similar LOL!) All of us love the idea of hiding our flaws and imperfections. It’s a great idea for our wardrobe, a horrible idea for our life.
As a pastor, I often meet people in church that come across as perfect: no ‘issues’, no hint of trouble until suddenly BOOM! Their whole world blows up. Christianity is not a bunch of perfect people (just read your bible and you’ll see). It is imperfect people, full of flaws and issues, following a perfect Saviour. Church should not be a place where we pretend we are better than we actually are. The cross of Christ has already declared all of us to be sinners in need of a savior.
So why pretend? As we are open and transparent with one another the Church can be the Church.
Authentic Church shows us:
- I’M NOT ALONE. Sometimes people need to see your weakness and not your strength. In our faux world of Instagram and Facebook, we can tend to believe everybody’s life is working but mine!? Surely you know that’s not true? My mentors and Pastors minister most to me when they share their struggles and fears. It lets me ‘breathe out’ and know I’m not alone in my struggles.
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25)
- YOU’RE NOT ALONE. Pretending to be more than you are insures you’ll live a hollow, lonely life. People can’t truly love you, because they don’t know you. You’ve doomed yourself to live a life of shallow relationships. Jesus knows us completely; better than we know ourselves and yet loves us fully. It’s what makes Christianity such a place of rest. The Church should be a safe place to be fully known and loved.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
- WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER. For you to become all God has called you to be, you need others……the Church. To hide and pretend, to think you can fully mature in Christ on your own is impossible. By isolating and pretending, you’ll remain stuck in your sanctification and secret sin will own you. However, if you have the courage to plug into a community of faith, to know and be known, sin begins to lose its hold and we all grow together into the fullness of Christ.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)