If we are going to be an honest church, we choose to live in reality and truth, not fantasy or deception. So what does this mean for me as an individual? What must I desire?
I desire to be honest with God. After all, God is honest. Moving toward him will always be a move toward what is real and true. Consequently, I desire to live in truth with God. I want to live in his reality, not the fantasy world I create for myself. I want to know how he views me and accept that view as an accurate vision of myself. I want to know how he views my behavior. Instead of spending my life hiding or running (as per Adam and Eve), I want to learn to repent. To be honest with God about my sin, my failure, my darkness, etc.
In my own journey, this has often been difficult. At times, I have found myself unaware of my own need for repentance. (Pride is a powerful way to avoid being honest with God.) At other times, I have become painfully aware of my need for daily repentance. Hearing others talk about their own struggles and sins is helpful. Sometimes in our life group (small group that meets weekly), I will hear others talk and later on realize an area of my life that needs attention. Journaling has also helped me with this. I have kept a journal for many years. Often, as I am writing, I will refer to an attitude or behavior regarding a particular situation. In the process of writing this down, I become all too aware of how wrong this attitude or behavior really is.
I desire to be honest with myself. As I seek to be honest with God, I want to be honest with myself. I want to see myself for who I really am — in God’s eyes. I am loved and cherished deeply by God. Yet, as a human being, I have experienced a brokenness. In me, the tiny break began so long ago and now has become huge. Today, I want to look in the mirror and see what is really there. What might I see?
- Hurt from what others have said in my past which formed the digital recordings in my mind. These have been played over and over in my mind through the years. These words from others so long ago may have shaped the way I see myself.
- Wounds from unfair or wrong treatment by others. Memories of embarrassment or even humiliation from years ago.
- Fear of being humiliated, exposed, or being abandoned by loved ones.
As a part of an honest church, I want to be aware of these things in me and deal with them with God’s healing and redemptive love. Far too many of us live in reaction to our wounds. As a result, our actions are guided by our anger or fear. A very wise minister told me years ago that the best thing a minister can do for a church is to deal with his own "stuff." In other words, when I am dealing with the reality of my own life, I am actually blessing those around me. (This piece of advice has been extremely helpful and important to me for many years.)
I desire to be honest with others. One dimension of living as a part of an honest church is to relate to one another in love. In other words, I seek to relate to others with a sense of authenticity and genuineness. No hidden agenda. No double life. Just real. Yet, I am called to live in this reality with a genuine love and care for the people I deal with.
Being honest with others means that I refuse to be a manipulator. I refuse to use people for my own purposes. I refuse to get other people upset over something that bothers me and then use them to confront someone else while I lay low. I refuse to kiss up to people in their presence and then destroy them in their absence.
Being honest with others means that I think about what I am saying about my friends in their absence. Would I want them to know what I just said about them? Do I talk one way about certain people when they are present and then run them down when they are not around? Being honest with others means that I love them both in their presence and in their absence.
What else would you add to this kind of honesty with God, self, and other people?