I am still thinking about the idea of experiencing a church that practices more honesty. Thanks for your comments yesterday. What you said was helpful and caused me to give more thought to this.
As I think about the question "Do We Want An Honest Church," I wonder what the implications are for individual believers? Here are a few examples of situations that are not all that unusual:
- A couple is a part of a church for over five years. They are very involved in the life of that church. One week they vanish only to never return to that church. No explanation given. Just gone.
- A very tender hearted man has such a passion to help and serve the poor, yet in the late evenings he is glued to his computer watching the pornography that he has downloaded.
- A family has been very vocal about their displeasure over a new building project the church has taken on. While expressing their opinion very strongly, they have baffled a number of families in the church. They are baffled because this family has borrowed money from them (from a number of different families) and now refuses to repay this debt. To these families, this seems very inconsistent.
- A woman lives with memories of physical and sexual abuse brought on by a relative who is still a very "involved" member of his church. The abuse has never been revealed.
- A family who has been a part of a church for many years never talks about their son. He has a long drug history. In their words, "The people at our church would not understand such a thing." In other words, they can’t be honest.
- A church leader is vocal within the church about the need for the church to be loving. Yet, he is widely known at the plant where he works as being lazy to the point of causing a hardship on his co-workers.
All of these situations could probably use a very healthy (better yet, "godly") dose of honesty. But let me move ahead with this a bit.
What does a healthy church look like? What is a church like that lives and breathes honesty? I really want to lean in a practical direction here. What do you see or experience in such a community? I really value your ideas and suggestions on this one. As I think about this, it seems to me that an honest church is a place…
- Where men and women attempt to see themselves as God sees them rather than live with false notions about themselves. That is, they tell themselves the truth.
- Where men and women tell the truth to one another as they describe the realities of God, the Bible, life, and the life of the church.
- Where men and women confess sin regularly and often. Where confession is not reserved for the scandalous behaviors but is a regular part of prayer and life in the body of Christ. They tell God the truth.
- Where men and women simply deal with life as it is instead of trying to manipulate others and putting a positive spin on the mess we are in.
- Where authenticity is not measured by whether or not one gets an A or B in their "Christian performance" for the week. Rather, authenticity comes from the heart of a person who wants to become like Jesus.
- Where men and women can find a friend who will love them, listen to them, and tell them the truth even if it isn’t what we want to hear.
What would you add to this list?