3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 whocomforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in [a]any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are [b]ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
Everyone talks about transparency in the church today. We are told to "be transparent." We are instructed that this is the model of Christ, to be open and honest, not to wear our "church faces" but to be "real."
But is that what we really want?
Do you really want to know that the man sitting beside you in church is divorcing his wife for little reason, without counseling, without attempting to reconcile? Do you really want to know that the woman sitting next to you slept with the man next door? Do you really want to know that the teenager right up the pew from you has run away three times and considers walking into traffic all the time?
If you knew, what would you DO?
Would you preach to them? Or would you love them? Would you call to accountability in sin? Or, do you not want to "get involved?" Would you pray with them, offer financial help, spiritual help, a place to stay?
For you see, allowing them to be truly transparent means you have to GET INVOLVED. We are supposed to be brothers and sisters. We are supposed to be family. Family does not leave when the going gets tough--it stays. It prays hard. It works hard, it gives up some of what it has for other members. Family is forgiving, and family is not condescending. And family can be real...even when it's inconvenient.
When Layne got cancer, we got real with everyone very quickly. We had to do so. There was no time for false smiles, or brave fronts. We needed prayer, we needed help with the kids and business, we needed people who could hear us cry and not get tired of it. There were very few of those, however...and we learned quickly who our true friends were.
Transparency is messy. You might have a husband and wife in your living room crying and ranting at one another. You may have a teenager weeping or eating you out of house and home every Saturday while she pours her heart out. You might have to hear of abuse, of pain, of mental illness, of things that terrify you personally. And you may not be able to turn it off in half an hour. Because real life, if you are transparent, is MESSY. But Jesus would wade into the mess...would you?
I once had a pastor who would ask, "How are you doing?" and then, after you replied, he'd say, "Now, how are you REALLY doing?" That was a man who understood that we wear our masks, and that we don't believe that our church family wants us to be transparent.
This week, when someone tries to be transparent with you...think that about that age old saying: What would Jesus do...