August 25, 2009

A Response to a Post

I recently made a post on the topic of community and pseudo community. You can find it here.

At the bottom of that post, you can see a comment that was left by a friend of mine:

So I've been thinking about similar concepts recently. However, my question is "why do I feel the need to hide?"
Human nature?
Church sermons never telling us we can fail?
or my biggest fear...
I don't really believe the gospel?

I think somehow we (me included) have created a culture in which working out our salvation is unacceptable. We fear doing it in our own silence, let alone in front of our communities. But I can't believe that's the way to freedom.
This question that he raises is critical to the process of understanding the need for community in contrast to true pseudo-community. It is pretty clear that, in relationships, there needs to be a pretty high level of true community and realness that exists between the two people for any real connection to happen. Because of this understanding, I ask the question in a bit more focused manner: Why has it been differently portrayed in most churches across America? Actually, I think that answer is quite simple: Men.

That sounds somewhat judgemental and harsh. Clearly, it is. However, let me develop this a little bit.

We have been told, for many years, that there needs to be stability that nearly radiates from the male of the household; the father is the cornerstone of the family and is required to support, balance, and help create a discipline that everyone can live by. The buck stops with dad or any male in a leadership position. Through this, the men that have answered God's call to lead our churches have not been able to escape, in most cases, the cultural norm or slant toward this view of a true "man." Men have, perhaps by no conscious fault of their own, portrayed the Christian life as being one that celebrates the good seasons and continually prepares for the seasons of hunger, drought, sickness, and pain. Therefore, the men of the church, must have life figured out and not be emotional, unsure, or lack confidence in their ability to figure things out in their straight shirts, firmly pressed this morning at 5:30am; because every good man is up 2 hours before the crack of dawn.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not condemning being punctual and getting up early. But the point that I am making is that the men of church, have forgotten that "Jesus wept," in John 11:35; and not behind closed doors. That passage comes in front of Mary and "the Jews who had come along with her also weeping" (v. 33). In this same passage, Jesus is "deeply moved" twice; once in verse 33 and again in verse 38. The men of the church began to take on a more worldly portrayal of what it meant to be a Christian man; calculated, confident, never stumbling or being surprised.

Unfortunately, I think that we have found, in recent years, that is not the way that it is in reality. When we are honest with ourselves, as pastors or lay people, we don't have it all together; we don't have all of this stuff mastered, and I don't think that God expects that from us. We are broken people, pastors included, that face the temptations of the world and face the same opportunities to hinder the work of God at any point. However, this has not been the message for many years.

So this post is to men, across all walks of life, in any capacity of the word man. Be confident enough in the One that you can be broken and open. Pastors, share your genuine insecurities with those that you teach. In response to the questions posted by my good friend above, we are afraid because we have been conditioned by those that have been conditioned before us to hold to the fact that we must not be broken or imperfect.

We don't have it together, let's start acting and teaching like it.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. -1 John 1:8-10 (NIV)

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