Much has been written on this tragedy affecting the modern church. But there is something about seeing it in your own life that makes it more real and urgent.
There is a pervasive ideal that to be a Christian your life has to be perfect. You must always act as if nothing is wrong.
This lie has been espoused throughout decades, making the church opposite of what it should be. Instead of a place for healing, encouragement, confessing of sins, and repentance, the church and its people have become stale, stagnant, sterile, and superficial.
Last night, as I gathered around a table with the women from my small group, we discussed two questions.
1. How do you respond when you go through trials, and how should you respond differently?
2. How can you encourage other believers who are going through trials?
God bless the women I fellowship with. They opened up big time. Two women shared stories of desiring to start a family but still not being blessed with a child. Other women shared how they blamed their husbands for any relationship problem without stopping to look at what they did wrong as well.
As we all shared our hearts, we saw each other in a new light. Unlike the judgement we expected to receive, we were revived by our shared struggles.
The two women who are struggling to start a family felt known by another. Just by sharing their hearts' unfulfilled desires, their burdens were lightened.
The women that confessed their self-righteous tendencies within their marriages could see their reflection in a woman who was not themselves. They can now hold another accountable for this sin.
Our conversation was terrifically powerful. We came out of it refocused on Christ and remembering that we are to put God first, even in the midst of our life struggles.
What would have happened if my dear friends had held back? What if they decided not to open up for fear of rejection and condemnation? What if they believed the lie that everyone else is doing fine, not struggling with anything? We would have missed out on a beautiful moment to encourage one another to draw near to Christ and to act, speak, and love more like Him.
The holding back of our struggles is keeping us, not only from each other, but from God as well.
Each Christian has a gift, and if you pretend like everything is perfect, when in reality you're broken and ashamed, you not only miss out on a lifeline God has for you, but you also keep your Christian counterparts from using their gifts.
Satan is upon us, my friends. He wants to beat you down, and one of the best ways to keep you down is by convincing you to stay within yourself, to bottle up, to shut down.
Don't let the evil one take away your chance for encouragement. Your Christian friends and family are placed in your life for a reason, and that reason is to keep you focused on your faith in times of joy and peace as well as in hardship.
The next time you're with people who love you and care about you, take the time to open up, share each other's burdens, and spur one another on toward Christ.