You may be surprised at the company I keep. I know people who are addicted to cigarettes, are alcoholics and some who can’t stop taking pain pills. I have friends who smoke pot, snort cocaine, and shoot up heroine. I know several people who are addicted to pornography. I know women who have taken money for sex. I know men and women who have had lots of sex for free. I am close with people who have cheated on their spouses, have had abortions, have had homosexual relationships, and have physically abused their spouses and children. I know people who have murdered. I know people who have had family members murdered. I know people who have raped and people who have been raped. I know people who have molested children and people who have been molested. I know several people who have attempted suicide. I know people who have been homeless, who have not had enough money to feed their children, or have the means to get needed medication. I know people who have secretly gone without heat, electricity, or running water for extended periods because they couldn’t pay the bills. I know people who fight panic attacks on a daily basis, who can barely bring themselves to get out of bed in the morning because of depression, and some who struggle with schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and are crippled by OCD.
And all of these people are members of the church.
These people aren’t just in poor inner city churches. These are people from rural areas. These are people from the suburbs. These are people from next door. Sometimes these are people in your own home. I have been some of these people.
Sometimes in the church we are so focused on making sure that we appear holy, that we forget to just be real. In our attempt to strive to be like Jesus, we forget that Jesus was the ONLY one able to live a perfect and sinless life. We hide our weaknesses because we think that we will appear stronger to others, when in reality - true strength comes from being able to confess your sins and struggles to others so that you can encourage and be encouraged. That’s what true fellowship is really all about. And sometimes, in our fear of things that are considered sinful, we alienate people in the world who show obvious signs of their issues. We need to remember that we have been commanded to avoid sin, not sinful people. We have actually been charged with the opposite - to seek them out in order offer them the same Good News that you have been given.
And sometimes people who aren’t a part of the church can look at people in the church and see their sins and struggles and automatically label them as hypocrites. How dare they claim to be Christians and still do such-and-such. On one hand, you are right - Christians are held to a higher standard. But on the other hand, Christians are simply just sinners who have been forgiven. And people who continually need forgiveness. The church is kind of like a support group for sinners…so don’t be so quick to be judgmental if you see someone who is making an effort at holiness slip up on occasion…we all do.
We are all a mess in some way or another. If you view yourself as someone who is broken and ashamed, take comfort in the fact that you have the ability to be forgiven and redeemed. If you view yourself as someone who does no wrong, then be careful…pride comes before destruction.
Take an honest self evaluation today. Be honest. Then go out and be real.