Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Mask Must Come Off The Church - It's Time To Get Messy

One of the biggest mistake we make in the Church is not talking. Oh we talk a lot about different things such as sports, the weather, church events, vacation planning, childcare, parenting but we seldom have serious dialogue about the serious matters. We are messing up and becoming a mess because we don't talk about our temptations. We don't talk about things that are bothering us. We don't talk about sin. We don't talk about the dark areas of our lives because we don't want to be the first one to start. We are afraid that if we start the dialogue no one else will join in and we will be left looking stupid and alone. That is a terrible feeling, so we avoid it.

The fact is we are not china dolls, we are far from perfect, we mess up and often times we need help figuring things out. We need hep. We need to talk. And we need a safe place to do it. It's time to pull the mask off the Church and let it be real as Jesus wants it to be real. He didn't pretend sin did not exist. He dealt with it as it came up. He got people to talk, to bring it out in the light and it was dealt with. The woman at the well is an excellent example where Jesus helped the woman bring her sin into the open where it was dealt with. As long as we keep it in the dark it has power over us.

The Church was always meant to be a place of freedom, acceptance, new beginnings, re-birth, dealing with the darkness, exposing the ugly things so they could be made beautiful, a place of trust, a place of love; real love where wrongs are not recorded but forgiven and forgotten. It is like an emergency room where people come in with their wounds exposed so healing can be given. But we turned it into more of a theater where there is lots of acting and nothing real gets dealt with.

What about the kid who is being bullied at school or online, who is left in a place of dark fear, too afraid to tell anyone because people will think he is a wimp? What about the kid who is curious about his sexuality but doesn't feel comfortable to ask questions in an atmosphere that judges and condemns? What about the woman who is trapped in a loveless marriage or her husband who is completely confused about the purpose of his life? What about the couple who have completely messed up their finances but carry on pretending all is well? What about the pregnant teen who is so scared to tell anyone because of the shame so is thinking of ending it? What about the girl who tried some drugs last night and thinks her boyfriend did something? What about all these things and so much more that are done in the dark and the secrecy of the forbidden but are messy so no one wants to deal with it? Parents who are afraid of what people will say. Elders who are afraid of what people will say about their church. Do these things not need the healing touch of the Lord, the compassionate arms of the Father, the supernatural touch of the Spirit?

If we can't deal with these matters how can we hope to deal with the more complicated spiritual understanding? We can't afford to forget about the confusion of faith and the teaching of the Word. We can't be afraid to deal with questioning doubts, fears, worries and false teachings. We can't ignore these things and hope they go away. We need open and frank discussion and teaching. We need the Church to be a place where we are open and honest with each other. If it isn't we are going to be losing a lot of people. The Spirit revealed to the apostle Paul that this is going to be a problem in the end days:

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

We are seeing this today as people abandon the Church because they do not understand why we teach the things we do about homosexuality (the new leprosy), abortion, fornication, adultery, drugs and the like. Instead of being a place where people can dialogue without condemnation the Church is a place of segregation and rejection. Why would a young man ask questions about homosexuality and the confusion he is sensing at the age of 14 if he is going to be jumped all over, judged and then condemned. What about the person who has been questioning the existence of hell or the person who is now confused about the Trinity? Is is wrong to ask questions about the relationship between the Christians and the Muslims, if there is any? Instead we jump all over them without listening to the questions and cut them off from us. This is love? Instead of listening and responding to the uncomfortable questions, we would rather lose souls.

We have a lot of growing up to do in the Church and I hope we do it quickly before we lose an entire generation to the enemy. There are some individuals out there who are trying to change this, who are trying to open up the dialogue, who are not hiding behind church rules and conformity. Many won't join them because they don't know the Word well enough themselves to help people, so instead of helping they state what they have been taught and tell them to take it or leave it. Not so loving. Not much compassion. Not a great deal of teaching and explaining. I salute those individuals who are strong enough in their faith to make a difference in the lives of those with questions, doubts and fears. I pray that the rest of us will decide to take off the mask and join them.

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