Honesty, Love, & The Church

We say honesty is the best policy… but is it?

We don’t tell “bold-faced” lies, but how many half-truths, deceptions, and misdirections do we employ in our words and our silences?  How much of our selves really make it to the surface?

“The truth will set you free,” says Jesus.

“and miserable,” we add with James Garfield

The word sincerely literally means “without wax.”  It originated in a time when sculptors used this malleable substance to fill in scratches and gashes, hiding the mistakes they feared would lower the value of their art.

Plastic surgery, clothing, makeup, carefully engineered social media profiles, guarded relationships, professions of faith that feature incomplete versions of our true selves.

We hide behind wax.  Making conscious choices that become existential instinct.

Eventually though, the sweltering heat of our circumstances leaves us exposed; wax pooling on the floor like the veneer of our comfort.  We are seen.

Ironically, this is a good thing. The unexpected key to marriage and really any relationship worth having.

The more I try to hide my true assumptions, feelings, and fears (those that I fear will create separation), the more separate we become.

The more vulnerable I am(even if I know that what I say may hurt her feelings), the closer we become.

Intimacy is messy. Dangerous. Sacrificial. Liberating.

Jenny and I are learning to be brutally honest with each other.  It has allowed us to experience the best and worst of each other.   It has exposed the ways we agree and disagree on some of the most important things in life.  It hurts and it heals.   Truly loving someone means accepting and celebrating who they really are.

Reflecting on this, I can’t help but lament the state of “love” in the church.

Scripture  frames our communal relationship with God in the terminology of marriage,  and it is no accident that many of us contemplate divorce…especially millenials, doubters, and skeptics.

We  move gingerly within the church or avoid it completely.  They desperately want us, but expect to remake us in their own image.   Most congregations claim to be open-minded but have unspoken (or spoken) theological or social lines that cannot be crossed (even temporarily).

Unfortunately we have equated agreement with membership.   Many of my friends (and respondents in national polls) remain silent about their true beliefs in church because they fear rejection.

Unsurprisingly, a growing number of Christians, feel more comfortable, more alive, and more connected to non-Christians than those who share their pews.

For the body of Christ to flourish we need to learn to risk authenticity.  Authenticity in our beliefs.  Authenticity in our doubts.  Authenticity in love.

This doesn’t mean changing our beliefs, but changing the way we hold them: Acknowledging that they are dark windows into the nature of God’s movement from which we are constantly gaining more vision, rather than microscopes that seem to show the whole specimen.   Affirming that God is so mysterious that we are unable to see the whole picture without those who stand beside us (and without those who disagree).  There will be misunderstandings, fights, and breakups, but these are the growing pains of any healthy relationship

It is only in the difficult “knowing” of  honest relationship that we can move  faithfully into the love of God together…even if that takes us to a place we never planned to go.

 

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