Authenticity in Church

I just read a revealing set of comments to a tiny short post entitled “keeping your mouth shut!“. The single question asked was, “what is something you feel you can’t say in church, or around other christians?”. What was revealing is so many long for people to be able to be open and honest with, yet feel they can not be that way themselves. They fear judgment, or condemnation. What also spoke volumes were the posts that showed the people who fear condemnation have cause to fear it, because many ARE being judgmental. 

Realize, I am not saying we are not supposed to confront our brothers and sisters who are sinning – we are. But we are to do so in love, and when people change, or even begin to try to change, we are to encourage them – not condemn them. We need to be men and women who love God and love our brothers and sisters. We are SUPPOSED to be able to share our faults and failings and problems. We are SUPPOSED to be authentic and deal with life’s problems head on with Christ. We are supposed to help others learn to do exactly that. 

But my wife and I can empathize with those who worry about not being able to be authentic. We’ve been in churches big and small, with small groups and without. But its amazing when we try to open up, some people feel threatened. What is sad, is after my wife has opened up to some women in the women’s ministry, she was asked to not reveal certain things about herself, or her past, in public, and especially not to certain people, in church – by people in the church.

We have a lot of experience between us – good and bad. But some believe it would be better for the church and its members if no one ever knew. But if people do not know, how will others know we can minister to them  when they need it? If people can not hear, how can we confess our sins? How can we pray for each other if we have no idea of what people are going through, or have gone through?

Many came to comfort Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus. Jesus also comforted in His way – He brought Lazarus back to life. You just can’t beat that kind of comfort. 

John 11:19
and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.

But it would be nice if we could share what we were feeling with our friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, as James said to do.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

We are to speak the word of God into the lives of His people:

1 Corinthians 14:3
But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement andcomfort

In fact, even Paul wanted to encourage and be encouraged by others’ faith. 

Romans 1:12
that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

But for that to happen, we need to share where our faith is alive. We need to share where our faith is weak. We need to be authentic. We need to let people learn from our failings, and give them the opportunity to minister to us. How can we do that, when we’re being asked to not give them the opportunity to do so? How can we let the Holy Spirit move within us to help us grow when we shut people down, or when we refuse to speak up about our problems so the Holy Spirit can move in others. Now, the Holy Spirit does not NEED us to speak up, as He can move people and heal people with or without us. But if we refuse to be used by God in this way, it removes opportunities for our growth and that of others.

Nothing can be more authentic than the people who do not want to be shut down. These people WANT to open up. These people are crying to be allowed to be themselves. Yet, there are expectations.

Most people are more worried about not meeting someone’s expectations (and to be honest, even myself at times fit this category) than we are about growing together in unity in faith in Christ. So we don’t. We don’t allow ourselves to trust God.

God is asking us to be real. God is asking us to be authentic. We need to trust God. We need to speak the truth in love. We need to let others speak the truth in love to us. 

We need to be authentic Christians who Love God and love others.

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