When you’ve been a Christian long enough, you start to see a theme in discussion material. One of the laments you frequently hear is,
“There’s no UNITY! If we were truly one in Christ, there would be no denominations!”
Another old favorite is,
“We need a REVIVAL in this country — people pouring into the churches, their hearts thirsting for God.”
Some day, if my food is digesting well, I’ll touch on the first two sentences, but today I want to talk about this one:
“We need to be more HONEST with one another, confessing our sins and exposing our vulnerabilities to our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
If we truly loved one another — like family — and trusted one another, so the argument continues, we would willingly share our deepest secrets and most private thoughts because . . . that’s supposed to help somehow. That we don’t is evidence of our distrust and lack of confidence in one another.
I Don’t Trust Just Anybody
Let me address that last sentence first:
Yes, that’s true. I don’t trust a person just because I see them once a week in a church service, or another time after that in a small-group, artificially intimate setting. Given to my own devices, I hang around — and share intimate thoughts with — people I genuinely like, who tend to genuinely like me back, and who earn my trust because they are thoughtful, discerning, mature, wise, and able to keep their mouths shut. They also don’t post everything on Facebook.
Regular attendance at church or small group services — even in a leadership position — does not ensure that a person meets these qualifications. When and if I do find a person who meets the qualifications of trust, I tend to speak with them one on one, not in a group setting.
There. That’s taken care of. Now let’s talk about the whole family thing: yes, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are expressly told to love one another:
“A new command I give you: Love one another,” Jesus tells us in John 13: 34. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The Family of God, and the Family We’ve Got
Like many people, I have a large and diverse extended family. We belong together, enjoying one another to different degrees, and share aspects of our life commensurate with how close we are.
I can’t recall, ever, striking up a conversation with any of these wonderful people about really, really agonizingly personal topics — so personal that I prefer not to provide an example — so sensitive that I have difficulty admitting them to myself, first, and God, next (actually — it’s generally the other way around: the more comfortable I get with God, the more He points out the things I am hiding, secreting, and avoiding).
Just because I don’t emotionally eviscerate myself in front of the people I belong to, does not mean that I do not love or trust them. It simply means that some aspects of us which are private — very very private — can remain that way. And that’s more than okay.
Modern Christianity is infused with and infiltrated by psycho-babble, and we too easily accept teaching that is unproven, imprudent, and not wise. Sometimes, to convince ourselves that we are intelligent and intellectual, we copy the ways of the world, not realizing that it’s really supposed to be the other way around.
Treating a desire for privacy as if it were mentally aberrant is aberrant in itself, no matter how you coat the words: whether you say you seek domestic security, or a deeper spiritual relationship with your brother, you’re overstepping the line when you poke and prod into other people’s lives.
There is a difference between being open and honest with one another and transparently buck naked, and when it comes time to exposing the acute vulnerability of our inner being, there’s only one Person to do this to. This is the one Who knows us. He knows when we sit and when we rise. He perceives our thoughts from afar, and He is familiar with all our ways. Before a word is on our tongue, He knows it. (Psalm 139: 1-4)
For everybody else, this is Too Much Information.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. We really do need more of this — commonsense — in all aspects of our lives, and the best way to get it is for people being willing to ask questions, and to seek out answers beyond what they are traditionally given.
If you like what you read, please pass me on. I’m just an ordinary person who decided that I had something to say, and thanks to the Internet, I’m saying it. As more and more regular people speak up, we won’t be dictated to or influenced by by an elite, leadership class.
Posts similar to this one are
The Privacy of Our Minds (at my blog, This Woman Writes)