America’s Funniest Home Videos featured a hilarious clip of a toddler throwing a tantrum. Dear friend Sue sent me the link this week and I realized it fit perfectly into my Grumpy Old Man series.
If you didn’t detour to watch the video I will give you a brief description of the clip. If you have finished your homework skip to the next paragraph. The clip is called “The Crying Game” and it features a toddler who is intent on getting attention. He throws himself dramatically on the ground and wails loudly. When the Mom walks calmly by and ignores him, the child picks himself up and goes looking for Mom. As soon as he rounds the corner and spots her he throws himself dramatically on the ground and wails. Mom moves away again. Kid picks himself up and wanders off in search of her. When he spots he…yeah…you got it.
The video is hilarious. The child’s rage is so phony. His actions are so transparent. He is not fooling anyone. How childish and silly. And then I realize how many of us do the same thing nearly every Sunday. The difference is that we do the reverse. When we are spotting we quit throwing tantrums and start behaving. We are angry during the week or even on the way to church. When our church friends are not watching we are wailing about others, gossiping, and mean. As soon as we walk in the church door we are smiling like the homecoming queen during the parade. Just like that toddler, our spirituality is so phony. We are not fooling anyone. But in this case it is tragic, not hilarious.
We go to a place where honesty should be encouraged. Where shortcomings ought to be accepted. Church should be the place where you can say without fear, “I am struggling, I hurt, I need help”. But for some reason the opposite happens far too often. Two people who are really in pain could have this conversation every week in church.
“How are you doing?” (Insincere query…too busy to really care)
“Great, how are you?” (Dishonest reply…perfunctory courtesy question)
“Fantastic…great to see you.” (Really dishonest reply…safe dismissal salutation)
Am I advocating dumping our woes on everyone we meet? Of course not. But my fear is that we have created a culture where we feel there is something wrong with us if we are hurting. If I am struggling I must be doing something wrong spiritually. Shouldn’t God meet this need? What is wrong with me? The fact that God created us with a desire to be in community tells me that part of His plan to for us is being helped by other members of the body of Christ. I have quoted the lyrics of Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns in a previous post. They fit here again. Allow me to interject between the brilliant lyrics of Casting Crowns.
Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small
Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they'll soon discover
That I don't belong
How many times I have felt like that. If my walk right now was exposed I would be excommunicated from the faith. I am so dry that any spark sets my anger and emotions aflame. But do I confess that? Dare I confess that?
So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the heart again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them
And there you have it. Most of us, at one time or another, have played this stupid game. Maybe I will believe it too if just tuck it all away.
Is there anyone who's been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who's traded
In the altar for a stage
The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart
But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be
Satan would have us believe that we would be rejected if we dared to let other see the truth behind the person. Perhaps some would reject that. But I want to be willing to take a chance to be real. I want to be authentic and see where that takes me. I can’t find that authenticity with a painted grin and phony reply.
Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay
That is the giant that we face, isn’t it? That if we let people know what we really are that they will turn and walk away.
Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade
Can we trust Jesus enough to close the curtain on the Sunday Morning Masquerade? Can we trust him enough to be authentic? Not needy and demanding. Just honest and real. There is so much more available to us in the body of Christ if we can let down the charades. Want some more homework?
Look up the “one another” verses in the Bible. Here is an example from Hebrews (10:24–35).
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. NIV
Implementing these “one anothers” into daily practice would go a long way toward eliminating Sunday Morning Masquerades.