Life is hard!!! Ok, life can be really hard much of the time. Single parents struggle to make ends meet and to properly provide for their children. Elderly people struggle to remain healthy, make it to the grocery store, and keep up with the friends they had years before. Parents struggle with raising their kids to make responsible choices. College students struggle to find time to study, work, relax, and call home to check in. Everybody struggles.
But in Christianity, many people act as if they have it all together. I think that part of the reason for this is that in church culture people are expected to live according to certain precepts and this pressure causes them to put on a facade at church. They act as if they have it all together in order to come and worship God “properly.” This idea bleeds into the realm of evangelism. Christians think that if they are to help others embrace the Gospel of Jesus that they need to show the world that in Christianity God fixes our brokenness.
And while God does fix our brokenness, the completion of that work is not fulfilled until the institution of the eternal state. The result is that as of now, we don’t have it all together. In fact, quite the opposite. We embrace the Gospel because we recognize our flaws, faults, and sin. We cling to the Cross, because it brings forgiveness. We desire to live in obedience to God, but none of us do it perfectly. Christians struggle with anger, they struggle with gluttony, they struggle with alcohol, they struggle with depression, and the list goes on.
We don’t go to church because we have it all figured out. We go to church because that is the place where we meet with other broken people who love God. We go to church because we know we need God’s help to continually get things straightened out. Additionally, we share the Gospel because we know other people are broken and hurting just like we are. We don’t have it all together, but we have forgiveness and salvation in Christ despite our own imperfections. We share the Gospel because we recognize that no one can work their way into heaven. We share the Gospel because loving God empowers us to love others.
This love for others has no limit. We do not discriminate regarding who is worthy of the Gospel. No matter what anyone has done, the call is equally given. A person who is addicted to drugs is just as accepted as a person who is trying to do his best to contribute to society and leave the world a better place. A person who has a disease is just as accepted as a person who has never smoked a cigarette.
When we begin thinking that we must put on a front. That we must act a certain way to be accepted at church, we are often tempted to become judgmental of those who have different struggles than the ones we are hiding–especially if their struggles are more public.
But we are not to judge people for their struggles. Church discipline is reserved for those who openly embrace sin–those who know what is wrong and who proudly do those things anyway. Everyone struggles, and those who struggle need help.
Consequently, all Christians need help living the Christian life, overcoming temptation, breaking bad habits, and carrying overwhelming burdens. But then, all people need help breaking bad habits, carrying burdens, and overcoming temptations. To put it differently, everyone needs the Gospel.
It is time that Christians in our culture get real. It is time that they stop hiding their flaws. It is time that they show the world that the love of Christ is not about following rules, but that it is about loving a God who provides forgiveness. It is time that the learn salvation is not based on the conditions of our work.
If the world sees us living out our struggles, being real, being genuine, and authentic; maybe the world will stop looking at Christians through the goggles of hypocrisy. Maybe they will find a group of people who are accepting and open to those still looking for hope in the midst of their own struggles.
Christians do not have all the answers to life’s problems. They struggle to keep their marriages in tact. They struggle to raise their children well. They struggle to make wise choices.
While no Christian lives perfectly or has all the answers, they do know the answer. Jesus is there beside us as we grieve. He is there as we rejoice. He is with us when we find it difficult to put down the bottle. Jesus is there when we cannot muster the strength to get off the floor in our bedroom. He is there when we hold a newborn and he is there when the doctors find no heartbeat in the womb. Jesus does not always take away our trials, but he helps us through, he loves us, he molds us over time to become more like himself.
We don’t need to show the world how good we are, because we aren’t that good. We need to show the world how good Jesus is, because he is exactly who God wants the world to know.
What will you do this week to be more genuine in your faith? How will this realness effect the way you approach those around you who do not yet know Christ as Savior?