DISPENSING WITH THE CHURCH FACE
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Romans 12:9
Genuine. Sincere. These should be the last words I see on a 3×5 card before getting out of my car and going out in public. The world is often a stage and ‘nice’ is the mask I wear as a Christian. Do others experience me as sincere?
Sincere is based on Latin words meaning ‘without wax’. There was an ancient practice of using wax to hide cracks in inferior pottery so that it could be disguised as more valuable and sold for a higher price. A high-end piece of pottery had a stamp on it that said, “Without wax” to show that it had not been doctored. As a person, I want to be sincere, not just hiding my true nature and true feelings.
What would happen if our home church, for one month, decided to drop all masks and dispense with polite chitchat? No, “Good to see you! You doing okay?” What if every conversation was thoughtful, intentionally real? What if there was no pressure to say something to every person that walked by? What if there was no pressure to smile?
How many people at my church know what I love and what I hate? How many people know what, about them, I sincerely love and appreciate? God is love, certainly, but he also hates what is evil. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Among the things that God hates is religion that is merely formal. (Isaiah 1:12-15) When I am nice to the point of saccharin, I am not like God. This is not love but like Greek theater where I pull out one of many masks to act in my play. This replaces real church where genuine encouragement and genuine burden-bearing are the ways I relate to others.
Children are never fooled by insincerity. “Good to see you,” along with a pat on the head, will never draw a child to your lap. They dismiss you and know what’s up. I’ve noticed that you always know where you stand with a child. They tell you what they like about you and also what they dislike. Gabe, my 9 year old grandson, was visiting me one day some years ago. I was posting my day’s devotional on my blog. He saw my picture in the upper corner and exclaimed, “Nana! You don’t look so OLD in that picture!” I laughed. I didn’t hold it against him. I knew it was true and I know he loves me.
I’ve lived on a stage for most of my life and I think it’s infected my ‘persona’ more than I’d like to admit. In the past decade, I’ve been intentional to let my ‘child’ out more, removing some of the filters.
You weren’t polite, Jesus. But oh how you loved and how you offended. Show me what a gracious truth-teller looks like. Amen