Several years ago, I went to a local hospital to visit someone from our church community only to be turned away at the front desk. It wasn’t that the person didn’t want to see me, they didn’t want to see anyone! At the time I thought it strange, but after spending a few nights in the same hospital over the years, I get it – at least I understand. Nobody wants to wear those gowns! Everyone wants to go to the bathroom on their own!
There are certain things that are meant to be private. What should I reveal to the world? Should my wife know every thought? Is it possible to have accountability without complete transparency? Is community possible without vulnerability? If I am honest about my thoughts, actions, and attitudes, then would that not harm my testimony of who Jesus is?
The problem with building a community of Christ is that everyone answers these questions differently. In fact, every generation answers them differently. You may have grown up in a family culture where vulnerability was discouraged. Or, you may have learned over the years that transparency is equal to honesty and to not be transparent is to lie and deceive.
Twenty years ago, an elderly woman said this to me, “I expect my pastor to be above the sinful attitudes that you confessed to the church family this morning. I can no longer have you be my pastor.” Twenty-five years ago, an elder in my church said, “We cannot air our dirty laundry in front of the church – people cannot handle it.” Not too long ago, a young person said something incredibly critical and abusive to me and then followed it up with, “I’m just being honest!”
A few principles:
The key to letting the light of Jesus shine through us is transparency.
Accountability must go both ways, or it is just spiritual abuse.
Vulnerability reveals the grace and mercy of Jesus.
We are probably all asking questions about our definition of community in these days. I would just like to throw the church’s hat in the conversation. What should the community of Christ look like? How has your lack of vulnerability hindered the love of Christ being revealed through His body – the church? What levels of accountability have you established and do those relationships go both ways? What would change if I viewed the local church body as my family? Transparency of the believer is actually translucence because we each have impurities that refract the Light. Gratefully, the Master Craftsman is transforming me through the renewing of my mind so that He can perfect His will in me and thus reveal Himself more clearly.
If you are struggling, would you consider being vulnerable with the body of Christ? Would you share your needs or hurts with your church community? Does your Compass Group know? How can we pray and help bear your burden if we don’t know what that burden is? Social distancing should not mean emotional distancing. You are not a rock, and neither are you an island! Jesus is the Rock on which the community of Christ is built – and the gates of hell cannot prevail against Her. Let us not give up being the family of God!