By this time we’ve probably all heard the lyric “I am a sinner; if it’s not one thing, it’s another” more times than we can count, allowing the truth to refreshingly wash over us that we are sinners, and He knows that. But how often do we still try to present our ideal images of ourselves to the outside world? How often do we apply this lyric merely to ourselves and exclude from it the humans surrounding, holding them to a standard we could never achieve because their brokenness shows up in different areas than our own.
Because we are all imperfect people following a perfect God, we will inevitably serve Him imperfectly, and view others’ walks with Him imperfectly. When we start fussing over all the nonessential aspects of Christianity or Christian society, however, we begin to lose our witness. A house divided cannot stand.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:35
Something my father once said has rung more and more true both as I’ve grown and as I’ve delved deeper into ministry. “I will fail you,” he said, “as your pastor, as your friend, as your leader, as your brother in Christ and as your father, I will fail you. The question is then, what will you do when that happens?” Our relationships cannot be based on performance. We are all, at our core, terribly broken people. Also at our core, we are people designed for relationship and unity. There will be enough people trying to fight you. Whether or not you feel like it, keep it outside the family. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s obedience.
In the words of my favorite little nine year old, “Not everyone’s going to have the same opinion. You don’t want to lie, but you want to be understanding of their opinions. If you agree with everything they say, they’ll get a hint that you’re not being yourself. And that’s the thing, you have to be yourself, not just hiding behind your best friend. Then other people see you and start seeing they can be themselves, too.” You become like the boy who cried wolf, only you’re crying identity, and there are folks just waiting on the sidelines to see who the beauty is behind the facade.
We’re broken. And that’s where we find unity, as broken people seeking the love of Christ. We’re a congregation gloriously off-key belting praises to our King, like expectant toddlers with faces shining as we reach up for Daddy to hold us.