I recently wrote a piece for my church’s blog that I thought would be good to add here. Enjoy!
It’s become one of the newest buzzwords in the Church. I feel like it’s on the verge of losing its meaning, if it hasn’t already. So I want to try to revitalize the word a little bit.
Churches often claim to value authenticity, but there’s still an unwillingness to see that authenticity is a two-way street. It’s important for those attending a church to be authentic and open—particularly in the small-group setting—in order to obtain any real benefit from being in that community.
But that’s not easy to do, especially since churches have a history of being judgmental and even ostracizing broken people.
To their credit, church leaders are beginning to see how important it is to create a safe place for people to be authentic, open, and honest about their shortcomings, failures, and sins. Because in order to heal, people need to acknowledge their brokenness.
And in order to acknowledge their brokenness, people need a safe place to be honest.
But I would argue that churches need to go one step further than simply creating a safe environment—one step further than just not being judgmental.
Churches need to be authentic.
If we’re going to expect people to be authentic, we need to give them the gift of going second. What do I mean by that? Simply put, we as a church need to be authentic first. We need to be real with people about our brokenness. We need to be honest about the fact that we’ve messed up. We need to be open about our own sin.
It’s funny how acknowledging our brokenness allows us the opportunity to love people even better. We can love people better because we see that everyone’s in the same boat; we’re all broken, messed up people in need of saving. And we can love Jesus better because we’re reminded of what He saved us from and what He continues to save us from.
In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, James is translated as saying the following: “Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”
I would argue that the “homeless and loveless” would include those that have been spurned by the Church. They’ve messed up. They’ve sinned. And we’ve turned them away because of it. So they go from community to community hoping to find healing but never being healed because they’re afraid to be authentic.
And authenticity is the first step to healing.
The Church is also in need of healing. The Church has given in to pride, arrogance, and a false belief that we are somehow the gatekeepers to the throne room of God.
And if we as a church can be authentic, we can find healing too.
My favorite band wrote a song called “Pins and Needles.” In it, the lead singer writes these words: “I’m growing fond of broken people, as I see that I am one of them.”
Do we want to be better lovers of the “homeless and loveless”? Then let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that we too have sinned.