“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” One does not have to go far to hear about the latest sin/crime/embarrassing act committed by a seemingly devoted Christian. This “bad news” is spread effortlessly everywhere – in the newspaper, on the radio, on the internet, on television, and in our “friendly” conversations at the beauty shop. The perpetrators are on the local and national levels, a variety of denominations, and a potpourri of ethnicities. Some have established wealth, others are rising stars with wealth just out of reach, while others pretend to be wealthy/blessed in order to “build people (really themselves) not buildings.” But, the real travesty is that the world does not see a guilty person that engaged in sinful deeds. They see a powerless church filled with hypocrites who are no different than unbelievers.
As a result, when we open our mouths to share our holier than thou testimony, we are met with hostility or worse a naïve wide-eyed awe where a person believes that by going to church he/she will receive blessings (translated: a car, a home, or some other materialistic desire). We use God as a cosmic ATM machine and as long as the “blessings” are there we ignore the thoughts of suicide the sister on the third row shared with us in her public prayer the other day. We sweep the sex offender's relapse under the rug because of the size of his tithe and his position in the church. Or, we pretend that the gash on the side of the usually friendly usher’s face is well disguised underneath her caked on make-up. And, we label the child that is acting out sexually and ignore the fact that he clams up whenever the Candyman comes around.
Why is it so hard for us to admit that there is just as much ugliness inside the church as outside the church? The difference is that the church has Christ who enables us with the power to overcome the world. So, there should be no need for us to cover our heads with a brown paper bag acting as if we have it all together. However, on the other hand, the church is filled with believers who have pride issues that quench the power of the Holy Spirit from working corporately within our congregations. Instead of creating an environment where we can honestly and biblically address/confess our sins, we have created a social club where everyone is “blessed and highly favored” and no one is dealing with anything real. Therefore, we do not pray effectively for one another nor are we able to properly share one another’s burdens.
Christians are not perfect and we have no reason to parade around like at a masquerade ball Sunday after Sunday. The fear of a shattered image is without merit and should be met with the daily challenge of dying to self and bearing fruit in our lives. Our goal should be to conform to the image of Christ not the image we have created for ourselves. And, as a result of getting closer to Him, we should be able to see, confess, and relinquish our sin battles to the Savior, aid our brethren in their struggles, and spread the Good News to a dying world in order that they may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
We cannot hide our sins from God and we should not allow our brethren to live a lie. Just as God confronted David by sending Nathan the prophet to expose David’s sin (2 Samuel 12), we need to properly (Matthew 7:3) confront our brothers and sisters with God’s truth in love when they sin for “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Yet, if we do not confess our sins, it will lead to a deadly downward spiral that tarnishes our testimony of Jesus Christ to the world – which is a headline that the world cannot wait to read.