Why the commotion? Well, I would be throwing toys, shoes and a dozen other things into the hallway closet. Also, I would be running around like a madman straightening pictures and pillows.
However, when I finally invite you in, please ask where the restroom is. It would be a pity if you opened the closet by mistake and were taken away in an avalanche!
Church on Sundays can be like that. We take a week’s worth of life’s clutter and stuff it into a closet just long enough for our visit with God and the other “perfect” people at worship.
“How have you been?” someone will ask.
“Oh, fine. I’m too blessed to be depressed,” the Sunday faithful may answer.
In reality, everything is not fine. It is all a psychological game we play.
At best, the faithful insist upon being polite to avoid burdening others with the realities of life. At worst, we avoid letting our humanity show beyond our papier-mâché halos.
The façade of spiritual perfection prevents everyday people from walking into church. The average person who senses a need to find connection with God is too intimidated to attend worship where everyone seems to have a Mentadent smile and a spotless life.
In reality, church attendees are struggling much like those outside of the walls of the sanctuary. Perhaps if the Sunday crowd could be a little more authentic, more people would understand that the following Jesus is not just for the flawless.
Every marriage is not a perfect marriage. All of our kids are not on the honor roll. Many people have had to change their plans and to give up on certain dreams. Few have the ideal job.
Why can’t we just be open about our struggles? Sure, discretion is important. Church services cannot become therapy sessions.
Yet, there must be a way people can share their burdens with transparency. We cannot let our problems force us into spiritual alienation.
Many years ago, I remember visiting a single mother who had stayed away from church for years. Life had placed many burdens upon her back. She had no place to put her burdens down.
In her mind, church was not an option. She was afraid she would be looked down upon. “My life is just too messed up,” she sobbed.
After giving the church a try, she found friends who prayed for her and supported her as she got her life back. She met Jesus in a powerful, personal way. She found friends who cared enough to expose their own weaknesses and struggles.
In authentic relationships we have the freedom to lay aside our façade — to take off our masks. People in our neighborhoods are looking for friends with whom they can share the realities of life.
Hundreds of new families in St. Clair County have relocated hundreds of miles from their hometowns. They are looking for people with whom they can connect and enjoy real friendships.
Sadly, many feel shut out and alone. Everyone needs a friend who will extend acceptance, compassion and support.
Perhaps you should take the risk of unveiling your own lack of perfection. Pull down your façade. Someone else is counting on your authenticity. God may change someone else’s life through your openness and honesty.
— Chris Crain, Pastor, North Valley Church, Margaret