Social media reminds me a lot of church. It is a great resource to maintain relationships, meet new people, encounter new ideas, and in a sense, live life together. And while social media gives us the ability to do all of these things in just a few clicks, interacting through a screen loses somewhat of a personal feel.
The church is also a place to come together, to learn, to exchange ideas, to grow, to celebrate. It is a place that has transformed lives and strengthened relationships. However, a lot of times, I feel the same disconnection in church as I do on social media.
When I log on to Facebook, I see perfectly-groomed and behaved children, pristine houses, picture-perfect family vacations, food that looks like it was prepared by Martha Stewart, and never-clashing outfits. Very rarely do we post our piles of undone laundry, a stack of bills that still need to be paid, kids forgetting to do their chores, Pinterest experimentations gone wrong, and children crying in the backseat because the other one crossed over ‘the line.’
Sadly, this same perception of perfection often leaks into the church. When I walk into church, most of the time I see people that, after all these years, still try to make it seem like they have it all together.
And I understand the logic: If I can make everyone think that I am fine, all is well, and that I don’t need anything, then no one will feel burdened by me; no one will feel sorry for me or pity me; and they might think that I really do have it all together.
But that logic is flawed.
Our world is not perfect. We are not perfect. And that is okay.
Let’s look at the Bible. It would have been perfect if God had written a book about only perfect people, on a perfect Earth, doing perfect things. It would have been the perfect example for all of us. But then there would have been no cross, no resurrection and no Savior. If the world were perfect, what would have been the point of Jesus’ death?
The Bible in Romans 3:23 says that “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.”
If the Bible was compiled of all perfect stories about perfect people, honestly, it would be a pretty boring and unhelpful book with no application to my life or anyone else’s. I would also make the argument that its impact would have been noticeably less. The fact that God shows us he is able to work through broken people—drunks, thieves, harlots, murderers etc.—is a testament to who he is and what he can do. He makes all things new.
God asks that we live our lives according to his will, but he never asks us to act like we are always okay or that our lives are perfect. In fact, as Christians, when we pretend like everything is always together, we diminish the power of the Gospel in others’ lives. This faux-façade is what made the Pharisees so unappealing.
In Matthew 23:13, Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Do the people online with their 25 picture-perfect posts a day, the over abundance of “blessed,” and the not-so-subtle humble brags, get under your skin? Well, the same thing can be said for those in the church who act like they have it all together. They turn people away because no one enjoys that sugary sweet persona. It is inauthentic and deceitful, and gives the impression that in order to be a part of our church or community you need to have it all together.
I don’t want to be unclear. I am not telling people to embrace their sin, but I am saying to embrace the work that God is doing through their sins.
The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Jay Lowder is founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and the nationally acclaimed school assembly, "Crossroads." He is also author of "Midnight in Aisle 7." Follow him on Twitter at @jaylowder or @jlhministries. More information on Jay Lowder can be found on www.jaylowder.com.
Publication date: April 19, 2016