Masks & Grace


I’m not a theatre boffin just in case you were thinking “what’s with the fancy pic?”. Just seems to say what I think about the masks we as people put on. They’re pale,sad and they don’t last too long before they hit the floor. Where they should be.

Lately my girlfriend and I have been chatting a lot about authenticity in the church. Not just a “bunch of 2-faced hypocrites” rant, just how we interact not just with each other, but those outside the church as well.

This is my first real post because it’s probably the thing that gets to me most at the moment. When people are genuine it makes me unbelievably happy. Conversely, when people, especially Christians, pretend to have everything together and hide the real stuff, I get… sad. When those same people then judge and criticize those that do open up, without really listening, I get angry. And at the same time I must confess that I am one of those judgmental saps. I also find it difficult to be vulnerable, particularly when talking to people who don’t believe. I’ve always struggled with this feeling that, as a Christian, I should never worry or doubt. If I do either of those I’m no different than the rest of the world and my faith will not impress anyone, least of all God. While I still struggle I can safely say that that is simply not true. No Jesus follower knows exactly what to do all the time and no Christian has perfect faith.

In John 20:27-29 Thomas, or the Doubter as he is popularly known, doubts Jesus who stands before him after his resurrection. This is a pretty weird situation. A dude you know has died is standing in front of you in a locked room that he just entered through the wall. And still he wants to check whether it’s really Jesus. Most of us would judge this guy in a second. “Dude, it’s Jesus. Just have faith and stop asking questions”. That would have been me. But Jesus is gentle, listens and then invites Thomas to come and see and feel the wounds that remained from the crucifixion. That is what makes Jesus so easy to love. He didn’t call Thomas a “Doubter”. Yes, he said “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” So yes, there is correction and redirection. But it’s loving. It’s kind. It’s what Jesus still does today. When we are confused, worried and in doubt, Jesus invites us to come with all of that. He isn’t offended by questions. He doesn’t see it as rebellion. The gospels do show that he got impatient on occasion, but he never gave up on his friends.

I think we as Christians have a tendency to become so defensive when someone questions our beliefs, that we completely shut out other people, even within the church. If someone struggles with a given situation, we react with a list of principles to quickly quench the “rebellion” so as to prevent any further personal upheaval. We rarely listen and just let people be. Yes, we should rebuke, advise and lead. But you can’t lead and help someone if you don’t know their real needs. And that’s what I plan to do. I want to really listen before I speak. The book of Proverbs says on a few occasions and in various ways that speaking without listening is unwise, rude and foolish or stupid. It seems many of us forgot to read and highlight that part. It’s easier to shut people out when they confront our own insecurities. But God want more for us. And so do I.

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