Have you ever met someone for the first time and just had a strange feeling about them? Maybe they felt guarded, like they were hiding something. You might actually like to know that person more, but they just keep giving this vibe that they just don’t want to share everything about themselves. The truth. But the reason they are so guarded is because they fear if we knew the truth we might judge them and walk away. Right?
Or maybe you’ve run across someone who obviously was trying to be someone they were not. It hurts to watch those types of people in action because you can almost feel them straining to fit into the mold. It takes more effort to be fake than it does to be real. All of the manipulation, all of the acting, all of the façade. That’s a lot of work.
But have you ever known someone who was so genuine that in a world filled with guarded and placated souls they were like a breath of fresh air? Have you ever known someone who was so wide open, so confident in who they were and so real that you leave them feeling better about who you are just because you got to spend some time with them? They were good medicine and soothing for your own restless heart. And you can’t wait to be in their presence again.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. We are living in a generation that is overflowing with ‘social’ media, selfies, 140 characters or less, instant gratification and viral stupidity. In a generation that is so connected isn’t it strange how starved we all are for something real? Something we can really sink our teeth into? Even ‘reality’ TV isn’t reality. We can’t trust anything we read, see or hear about. There is nothing, including ourselves, that is genuine.
This is true even of the modern church.
We are guarded. Afraid to tell the truth for fear of being judged and we might have someone walk away. We’ve become so oppressed by political correctness that we are afraid to share the reality of the Gospel. The bloody parts. The un-pretty parts. The parts that don’t make us feel good in our humanness.
We are fake. We strain so hard to be something we are not in order for people to like us. We want Jesus to be cool. We work to make the Gospel look nice and inviting and that if you accept it your world will suddenly become a utopia. We lose sight of the truth by doing this.
Here’s the truth. There are Christians still today losing their lives for a Gospel that we water down. There are Christians in this world today imprisoned and apart from their families for a faith we wouldn’t recognize because it looks nothing like our own. There are hundreds slain across this globe for proclaiming that Jesus is the Lord of their life. Murdered simply for doing what Christ asked us to do, which is to pick up our crosses and follow Him. There are Christians still today that must meet as believers by candlelight in hidden places because they fear for their lives.
And we complain about the music being too loud during Sunday morning church.
Friends, hear me! Jesus is the real thing! He’s not just a story that felt good to talk about. If that were the case there would not be horrifying stories of loved ones beheaded on the beach for proclaiming the Gospel. Jesus wasn’t just some guy crucified on a cross. He didn’t die just to give us something to do on Sundays and a place to go for a good potluck supper. But that is how we treat him when we fail to recognize the significance of His crucifixion. When we dance around the genuine reality and fluff it up to make us feel good we are left empty handed and the end result is tragic.
How good would it feel if we stripped away everything that stands in the way of the Gospel? The propaganda and the semantics. What if, like that genuine person we love to be around, the church was wide open about Jesus? What if we got out of God’s way and just let Him be who He is? What if we quit trying so hard to make the church be cool and relevant and allowed it to be the place that it was originally designed to be?
A well for the thirsty. A place for the Light to shine on our own darkness. Refining us. Molding us. A place to lay down our own human imperfections to trade them in for Christ’s perfect plan. A breath of fresh air in a world filled with stale and empty distractions.
I think that when we stop apologizing for the truth, the lies of this world will grow strangely dim.