Interestingly enough, the more we grow with each other at Grace Fellowship, the more I realize that we’re all weak. It’s fantastic to be a part of an authentic church. As people grow in maturity as Christians and in love for one another in Christ, they begin to feel increasingly open to sharing weaknesses and struggles.
Now, I think there are two ways to mess this whole thing up. Churches usually err either by (a) all pretending that they don’t struggle with anything, or, (b) all airing their dirty laundry and end up just glorifying and justifying their sin.
In my estimation, it seems that much of the North American church has been caught up in the former for some time now. As a reaction, the emerging church has swung the pendulum to the latter. It has now become trendy to slam myself and talk about what a pharisee and hypocrite I am. I’m supposed to use as many self-deprecating remarks as I can to show the world that I’m more humble than any of those ‘conservative evangelical’, pew-sitting, hymn-singing, non-arts-loving types.
The result of course is a bunch of people sitting around saying, ‘Well, I’m as much of a hypocrite as anyone, so who am I to make any declarations about what is right or wrong?’ And of course, everyone ends up staying hypocrites and being okay with everyone being hypocrites because, well, we’re all hypocrites! But, hey, at least I recognize it, right?
The thing I love about our church is that we’re growing in what our pastor likes to call ‘cross-centred authenticity.’ We feel free to be real about who we are, knowing that we’re all sinners in desperate need of God’s grace. But we know that the cross needs to be at the centre of all we do and say.
When someone has sinned, we don’t say, ‘it’s okay, I’m a hypocrite too, don’t beat yourself up.’ We can point them to the cross, reassuring them that God only sees us in Christ. And because of the cross, we have the Holy Spirit which is given to us to enable us to obey all God’s commands. So we can exhort each other on to greater righteousness, knowing that Christ demands absolute perfection.
The reality is that we’re all weak. We all struggle in different ways, just like we’re gifted in different ways. But that’s okay. That’s all the more reason to live openly and honestly in front of each other. So that I can let another person’s failures act as reminders and warnings to me and let their successes challenge me to greater righteousness.
And ultimately, we must always look to Christ: ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ We must remember that it is through us, the weakest of all, that God has chosen to shame the strength of the world.