Do we really need the mask?
I know someone who refuses to go to church not because she doesn’t believe, not because she has done something awful, not because she doesn’t think it important, but because she thinks she needs to get her life “right” before she can go. While I respect her not wanting to appear hypocritical, my heart aches for her and her misunderstanding of what “church” is.
Yet, I believe her thinking is all too common. There is a popular belief that people who go to church are perfect, if they aren’t perfect, then they are hypocrites. So we all go around wearing a superficial, perfect mask and we are afraid to admit our failures.
I used to have a similar belief, especially in regard to those who are in a position of power within the church. If you were to be in ministry, for example, then you had better not have any black marks against you. Ministers were those who had it together and were leading perfect lives.
Then I met ministers who confessed their shortcomings and failures. They would talk about their woundedness that either they had caused or that they had been on the receiving end. They were human, they wore no mask, and they let me see them in their humanity. I was astounded.
Then I began to study the great leaders and heroes of the Bible. David had an affair, had the husband of the woman whom he had impregnated killed in order to cover over his affair. Moses killed a man before God called him to lead the Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery. Jonah ran away from God. The Apostles didn’t believe. Yet, they were all called.
I struggle with bipolar depression and yet, I have been called. I am not perfect. I may fail you in my humanity. I mess up.
Church is not supposed to be about a bunch of perfect people. We wouldn’t need Jesus if we were perfect. No, Jesus came for those who are sick. Church is about us being a better person tomorrow than we are today. It is about helping each other find their way on the journey.
Even if you are a messed-up person, it is okay to go to church. You are not going to ruin the track record of the church. Come to Jesus with all your neediness, all your imperfections, all your shortcomings and failures. His grace is big enough.