"Do we want an honest church?" I suppose the immediate answer is "Yes." But what would that mean? Would it mean we have to deal with realities we would rather avoid?
Sometimes, I think our view of church is much like the child who sees Christmas only as a wonderful time of the year. For a child, Christmas is often a wonderland with special music, decoration, and gifts. Then this young child grows up, enters his twenties, and begins to realize Christmas sometimes is very stressful for families. While he was playing with his toys as a child, his parents or other relatives may have been navigating the waters of difficult relationships. Many of us grow up with a similar romantic view of the church. We may have grown up in a church where most everything seemed wonderful. Now, we may realize that some waters are tough to navigate.
What is the church? In essence it is the embodiment of the life of Jesus in a group of people. The church is the group of people in whom the Holy Spirit dwells as he works to transform these people into the image of Christ, for the glory of God. The church is not just an idea, but a people who depend upon the dynamic of God, his Spirit, to change their lives. So the church is basically a group of people living out the gospel. So today we are learning, even as we are being transformed, what it means to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.
OK, this is what I am thinking about. (I’ll admit, I am thinking about this one a lot right now.) What is the place of honesty in all of this? Are churches generally known for their honesty? I am not just talking about what we "preach" on Sunday AM. I am talking about what we communicate in classes, in our ministries, and in our relationships within the body of Christ.
- Are we known for being honest about God? Is our church a place where we can ask honest questions about God or the Bible? And, where do you go with your questions if you can’t take them to someone within the church?
- Are we known for being honest about life? That things happen that we don’t understand? Are we a people who attempt to be honest about sex, death, money, etc.?
- Are we known for being honest about the church? Are we candid and forthright with people or do we forever put a positive spin on things? Do we name the big elephants (problems that are obvious to everyone but for some reason we refuse to deal with) among us?
I am interested in hearing your comments on this one. It just seems to me that if we would put more confidence in God and trust that he is continuing to transform this body of believers, we would be less nervous in our churches. We would be more concerned about telling the truth than in maintaining our silence.
I think a lot of people want to be a part of a church family where people are real. Where there is some degree of authenticity. Authenticity, however, is best fostered in an atmosphere where we move away from pretense, falsehood, and a preoccupation with appearances and move toward Jesus. Authenticity is best cultivated in an atmosphere where we speak and live truth.
I am interested in hearing what you think about this. What is most important in cultivating such an atmosphere?