Imagine an operating room being prepped for surgery. Everything is absolutely clean--no germs or stains--sterile and new. There is no tolerance for a smudge or a speck of dirt.
Is this what good Christians and our churches look like? Are we absolutely clean, without any problems or bad habits? Do we make the right decisions every time? We like people to believe that we are spotless because if we have a past (or present) then we aren't perfect. Good Christians should be perfect or at least look like it.
The problem is that this a LIE! Even "good Christians" are a mess. Just because we have chosen to follow Christ's example and believe that His life, death, and resurrection are absolutely true and essential for life in Heaven, we are NOT perfect. Every single day we screw up. All of our bad habits, addictions, and earthly consequences don't magically disappear the moment that we accept Christ as our Savior from the world-view lifestyle.
We have become perfectly FAKE! We put on our smiley, church mask and walk through life pretending we don't have problems. If we have problems then someone might think that we aren't faithful enough. It takes a lot of energy to pretend to be perfect. Sometimes I think that if I could just have one good, honest break down it would be like a pressure release. The problem is that you can't be honest if you don't trust that honest will be accepted.
Fake Christians have crafted the perception that Christians should be perfect and created unrealistic expectations. What happens when a good churchgoer has a beer? What happens when a good church girl gets pregnant as a teen? What happens when someone gets divorced? What does the church do if someone commits one of these visible sins? (You know, the ones that you can't hide, unlike gossip, porn, lying.) What happens is that the impact of the crash is harder! If the church isn't willing to help catch you then you fall further away, sometimes so far you don't make it back.
I'm not suggesting that we don't hold people accountable for their choices. When we proclaim to be a Christian, we have a responsibility to be aware of God's expectations for our lives and then live in a way that outwardly reflects the Holy Spirit's inward presence but we will all fail so I'm suggesting that we try to extend some grace. Grace may not mean that life goes on the same as before because there are consequences--good and bad--to every choice we make. Grace does mean that we don't slam, double lock, and chain the door when we shove the "sinners" out of our pristine sanctuaries.
I don't want to be afraid to stand beside someone in the middle of their mess. Just maybe that step could be what helps someone see Jesus instead of me! Wouldn't it be great if everyone in the church would take off their mask, be honest, seek God's wisdom and find the support of other believers? A strong church body is the best medicine for the hurt and broken.