Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Masquerade

I’ve been ruminating tonight on why we as Christians feel the need to come across as always being in control of situations, always right, as well as never looking bad to non-believers. Why we pretend our life is perfect, and we have a handle on living sin-free. Sometimes Christians make me crazy. They are not authentic. They are fake, false, always trying to look as though they have no problems. Why? Do we think if we don’t portray the Christian life as some perfect, sin free, problem-free existence that people (both believers and unbelievers) will either A) not see the point of choosing that life, or B) will judge us for not being a “good” Christian? I think the true hypocrisy here is this lack of honesty. I don't think it so much bothers the world that we sin, rather it bothers them that we act like we don't! If we were honest to the core, I think people would respect us more. Why is it so hard to let our mask slip? Are we afraid to let unbelievers see that down deep we are just the same as they are? That we have the same problems, the same faults, the same temptations, we make the same mistakes. Being a Christ-follower is not a magic pill that suddenly makes us perfect, sinless, and without problems! We are still real people, in a real world, facing the same challenges as everybody else. The difference is, we have a goal, a purpose, we have a desire to change and transform our lives. We want to be more like Christ, and let him shine through us. But it’s not easy. It’s pretty messy. So, non-believers aside for a minute. Why do we as Christians feel the need to pretend with other Christians? That is insane. We all ought to know exactly how this life is! It’s a struggle for all of us. I know I haven’t spoken about a lot of my struggles because I fear others judgment and/or condemnation. And I fear the questioning look in their eyes - are you truly a Christ follower? The thing is, we need each other. A single stick is easily broken. A tightly bound bundle of those same sticks is impossible to break. That is why we need community. For support, encouragement, understanding. We need others to stand by us, and pray with us and for us. By being fake, not letting others see us for who we truly are, we not only alienate others, we hurt ourselves. We are easily broken. God made us to be relational. With each other and with him. Why do we try to do it on our own? What fools are we? We need to exist within a group who knows us, and loves us anyway. A group who will help carry our burdens, and whose troubles touch us in ways that make it impossible not to reach out to them with grace and compassion. We need less judgment, more compassion. Less self-righteousness, more grace. We need to accept each other where we are, and hold out a helping hand in encouragement and friendship. We need to see Christ in each other, and be Christ to each other. We are all wounded - we all have times when we need someone else to paddle the boat. Some days it’s all we can do to get in the boat! Other times we need to be willing to carry those who hurt until they can walk again. The more people working on the problem, the less daunting it seems. Even to share your heart with one person is so very freeing. Just to know they are there for you, they have your back, and they are praying for you - that is the most encouraging and comforting thing I know. It’s also encouraging to know that we don’t struggle alone, and that others have gone through similar struggles. If they haven’t isolated themselves behind a mask, and we haven’t built a protective wall, then we can truly connect and begin to find ways to deal with situations, and begin to heal. We so desperately need this sense of community. To live with each other, be invested in each others lives, sharing everything - joy, pain, good times, bad times, work, play, food, sorrow, crisis-whatever comes our way. We need to grow as one, each with our own part to play in the whole. And we need to treat each other with as much forgiveness, grace and compassion as we ourselves would want to be treated. I don’t know where I’m going here. I just know it’s something I have really been thinking about. And I’m gonna keep wrestling with it. Now I have to figure out how to begin to find that community, or to build that community. I guess it will be done one person at a time. I need to stop limiting myself by dwelling on how others will see me, and be willing to become even more vulnerable. In doing so, I may be surprised by what I find - other broken people who also desire to be real and incarnational.
Anyone wanna join me?

2 comments:

Kelly said...

Karen, you're totally right. I hate that about Christians (or possibly any fundamentalist group), too. And I believe we need to have a network of support, physical but also emotional. It's horrible that believers - within most church settings - can't find that. I hope you can find a group closeby, or start one. If nothing else, you have kindreds in the blogging community, which helps a ton. xo

Christine said...

I've seen it push both ways- people attacking Christians for pretending to be perfect (or foggily thinking they are), and people attacking Christians who confess to being flawed.

Either way, Christianity is not going to have the world's approval anytime soon.
It's hard to understand us, hard to understand why we do what we do, even if we're doing it right!