Over at Missio Alliance, Matt Tebbe has a rather interesting account of bedtime, a mustache, and the f-bomb. It’s a story about him getting real with his son and what it’s like to be truly honest with someone. He goes on to say that this is what is needed in the church and he says this is what’s desired by God. He says:
One thing I notice about my unchurched and apatheist friends: they don’t spend a lot of energy trying to impress me with how good they are. Some don’t care what I think, some are unaware of their badness, and still others probably take mild pleasure in scandalizing the pastor with their course language, lifestyle choices, etc.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself in that situation: once I deal with my religious impulse to take offense at people who live and think differently than me, it becomes a joy to be with them.
Religious leaders came at Jesus with agendas, hustling him in one of two ways:
- They sought to trap/test him
- They sought to impress/flatter him
Jesus had little interest and patience for people who insist on meeting God in falsity or pretense (“Why do you call me good?” “Why do you call me Lord, Lord?” “And who is my neighbor?” “Is it lawful to pay taxes or not?”). They typically go away confused, sad, or ready to kill him. But those caught in adultery (John 8.2-11) or aware of their sinfulness (Luke 5.5-9) or found out hiding in their badness (Luke 19.1-6)- the ones who get real with Jesus and lay down their relational hustles and hidden agendas- experience profound transformation in his presence.
Maybe this is why Jesus came eating and drinking with sinners: they were the only people who would actually be real with him. And Jesus delights to meet real people where they really are at.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in the various communities and groups I’ve belonged to is that, with the transient nature of our communities and the seasonal nature of our Alaskan environment, we keep fading out (or just stopping the group) before we get to the point where we can be real with us. As soon as we’re getting to those places that we can be honest, another fishing season is upon us and we’re scattered or we loose another member to the pull of the Lower-48.
Where can we find places to “Be Real” — with God and with one another.