Monday, June 15, 2009

Get Real, Christians!

Here's a great post by pastor/writer Paul Prather about how Christians need to be real. A few snippets:

"If I had to name the most debilitating problem with Christianity, I might say it’s the 'everything’s great, I’m so blessed' syndrome. Christians often feel compelled to show only their happiest and most saintly faces to their ministers and fellow churchgoers."

"What ends up happening, then, is that dedicated Christians frequently live in private hells. They think they’re the only ones with problems. They’re guilt-ridden. They’re spiritually hamstrung."

"The fact is, everybody’s messed up in one way or another . . . It’s just that hardly anyone wants to admit it."

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

I was thrilled to read this. I found it liberating and it rang true with my personal experience. I also know how much I've been encouraged as those I've admired over the years have opened up about their own struggles and how God has remained faithful to them.

A couple of years ago when my wife and I were being mentored in the ministry, she was discouraged from starting an outreach to struggling young women. We were told that, as ministers, it was not a good idea to open up about our frailties and failings. To do so would threaten our reputation and we needed to maintain an air of authority. The truth is that when we open up about our struggles and how God has comforted us in the midst of them, we then are able to become agents of that comfort to others who are struggling. I call it the Cycle of Ministry (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Does this resonate with anybody else?


Kristin said...

This rings truer than I wish with me. I have also been discouraged from using my struggles as a testimony to God's redemptive powers and unconditional love. I didn't realize how bad I'd allowed it to be until a "real" believer heard my confessive story and said "Wow, I'll bet you really get to use that testimony!" I blinked and said "no, I can't - it's not allowed." That person was extremely concerned - and that concern planted a seed of change in me.

I am reminded by the quote on the beginning of DC Talk's "What if I stumble"..."The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." I don't know who said it, but it's absolutely true. If you do not open up about your own failings, you deny your own need for salvation. Credibility is earned when you apply your beliefs - that's where that God-given comfort comes from. Without that, it's an untested solution that you want to hand to others. I don't know anyone who would use a solution from someone else without proof that it worked - from planes to fashion to diets, we are a 'show me' people. It seems that if we crave efficacy, we'd better set our pride aside and show our true selves - as healed, loved beings, not originally perfect.

Spenx said...

Maybe it's my self-deprecating humor, but I'm the first to admit my faults. This issue doesn't hit me so much as it kills me when it comes to Christians. For example, I don't know how many people have said, with a straight face, that they've never said or thought of a foul word. NEVER? Are you kidding me? Who are you trying to fool?
And it makes no sense in a church; after all, the whole reason we're here is because we realized we're imperfect and need help. Lots of help. It would be like sitting in the ER with a stranger. We both know that there is SOMETHING wrong with the other person or else they wouldn't be here. Neither of us are going to say, "Man, I feel perfect. Nothing's wrong. I'm just hanging out in the ER waiting room... why are YOU here?" We know why the other person is in here, so why lie? You wouldn't be in a church if you thought you were perfect, so why say it?
Makes no sense to me at all.

Adrienne said...

Someone said to me the other day, "surely you don't need to lock your car when you are parked at church?" I replied, yes I do lock my car. My church is full of all kinds of people, including lots of really screwed up people - people who steal things, people with addictions, people the state requires to register in a database because they are at risk for reoffending. We all really need to be there. So I lock my car. The Christians and seekers in my church are so real, I have to! And I think that's great. It's just as it should be.