I’ll be honest, I had every intention of writing this post yesterday but outside forces conspired against me. Namely, faulty AC and a bad case of ADD. The AC’s repaired and I’m trying to put a lid on the ADD, with varying success. But, I’m finally here, so let’s get to it. My last post was about the masks we all wear and what they do. To others and ourselves, with a slant toward other believers. Today, I’m writing about what our masks do to any witness we may have with the “unchurched”. I don’t really like that term, it seems a bit mealy-mouthed, but for the life of me, I can’t think of anything better.
So, what mask do we show to our unchurced friends and coworkers? The most common is one of purity. You know what I’m talking about, so don’t act like you don’t. Some Christians have a tendency to act like we’re better than we really are. Of course, I’m talking those brothers and sisters who walk around with a smugly superior attitude that says “I used to be like you, but I’m saved now”, like accepting God’s grace was some major act on their part. Then, they proceed to point out the faults of everyone else, paying particular attention to the ones they feel are most egregious (usually the ones related to sex). They rail on about sin and how if you don’t get saved you’re bound for Hell. And, they do it all with a distinct air of condescension that puts everyone off, even other Christians. But, we tell ourselves, there’s not that many folks like that and, best of all, we’re not them. Sure, we’re not (that was sarcastic, btw). There are a few folks like that, but give them a little time and they’ll shoot themselves in the foot. For example, take a look at Westboro Baptist Church. Even the KKK doesn’t want anything to do with them. No, these misguided souls aren’t the reason the people outside the church are staying away in droves. It’s us. The ones that think we’re such great folks.
For some reason, Christians are loath to let anyone know they’re sinners, to air their dirty laundry in public. For some twisted reason, we think we have to “be good” and have it all together. But, here’s the hitch: you can’t be good enough. Just ain’t happening folks, that’s why the Man had to come down and His thing. So, you can hang that up. I’m not saying that you should go out sin wildly, fun though it would be. I’m just saying to give up acting like that’s even an option. As for the “having it all together” bit, give me a break. If I could get it all together on my own, why would I need God? And, believe me, I’m not even close with God’s help. So, acting like I’m good and have it all together is a lie. And that, my friends, ain’t a good thing. Here are a couple of problems with whole purity thing. 1) If (and that’s a big IF) someone outside the church actually believes my mask of purity, instead of inspiring them, it will probably drive them away, thinking they could never live up to my example. The more likely outcome of this encounter would be that they see though my bullsh_t and realize I’m just like them, flawed and broken. This time, the response is “What hypocrite! I don’t want anything to do with his crowd.” I’ve created a stumbling block, just not the way we usually interpret that bit of scripture.
So, what to do about this mess? First and foremost, don’t be shy about how screwed up you are. Admit it, hell, embrace it. Let others see that you’re not perfect, not that it’ll be a big surprise to them. I don’t know what will happen if you do, but I do know this: it’s kinda freeing. In the last post, I gave you a peek at just how f_cked up I am. I’d kept much of that under wraps for quite a while and finally putting it out there to be seen by all was scary, nerve-wracking and …kind of exhilarating, all at once. It’s been out there for a few days and no mobs have shown up with torches and pitchforks calling for my hide, so maybe it’ll be okay. I hope that at least one person, churched or unchurced, who read it said, “Wow, I thought I was the only one like that.” If they did and got something from it, then it was worth all the village mobs in the world. So, take off your mask and be exactly who you are. God made you and He thinks you’re the bomb.