Honesty gets a backseat in the Church. Actually, I think many are afraid to be honest. I believe that too many of us use deceit or omission in order to protect ourselves. Grace and restoration are being overshadowed by judgment and manipulation.
We need a safe place to be honest. A place where you can confess your feelings, your shortcomings, your sins, your struggles, your mistakes – a place where you can be you, warts and all. We should be able to have an intimate friend – a true confidant – but within our congregations, grace and confidentiality should be the norm. While we should avoid “airing dirty laundry”, there are times we need an ear, a shoulder, someone to pray for and with us.
There are issues people face.
Mom’s who are weary of motherhood.
People’s issues (or sins) from their past.
Doubt or questions about our doubts.
We have to be “good little Christians”. To admit doubts, failure or weakness, we may find ourselves being; ignored, belittled, judged, or manipulated. We may even find ourselves under scrutiny or having to endure (unwanted) “private counselling”. We could even find ourselves the subject of gossip and presumption.
Accusations, such as;
Obviously you don’t spend enough time reading your Bible.
You need more faith.
You need to serve more.
You are obviously on the fence with your morals.
You must have some un-confessed sin.
There must be sin in your family (i.e., generational curse)
You must be spending too much time with..sinners, secular things, worldly entertainment, etc.
Have we stepped away from the basics?
What is fellowship all about, anyway? What about the commandment, “Love one another”? Why is it we feel we need to police and legislate and force one another into some sort of behavior pattern?
Notice something, here…Luke 22…31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”33 Peter[b] said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus[c] said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
Here is what I notice – what Jesus did not say. He had the authority to tell Peter, “Don’t you dare deny Me. No matter how bad you want to, don’t you dare, or I will be so ashamed of you.” But, He never said such a thing. He let Peter be the human he was. But, he also knew how He was working on Peter and how much Peter would be changed.
We lower the boom.
It is us. Not the Lord. We do it. We use terms that communicate how God is ashamed, how He is disappointed or how someone has disappointed Him. We say how God is not pleased, how someone who loves Him “should not do such things”. We even rub in certain blame, such as, “You did this to yourself.”.
I once had my own business. I made some pretty good mistakes in trying to build that business and, after a couple of years, I shut it down. This left me with some sizable debt. At one point, I went to our senior pastor. I had a list of all the debts and showed it to him. I simply wanted some pointers, suggestions, guidance…someone who would walk with me as I trudged through the mire of monthly payments and seemingly never ending balances.
I passed him the list as I explained how things were difficult. He took a light glance at the list, handed it back to me and said, “You have made some bad decisions”.
Oh, now tell me something I didn’t know. Thank you, Pastor Obvious.
I wasn’t looking for a handout and I wasn’t looking to be blamed. I could blame myself, plenty. I was looking for someone to walk with me, maybe come up with ideas or suggestions, to pray for and with me.
I put that list away and eventually got rid of it. I talked with him on and off about how we were getting along, but didn’t ask for his help, again.
God is love gives grace. For some reason, we don’t care to extend that same grace. We would rather judge. Grace does not deny whatever is wrong, but it makes no issue or big deal out of it. Grace does not bring law down. Grace remains undaunted by the shortcomings, failures, issues or the sins of another. Grace is about restoration, rather than condemnation.