Study after study, survey after survey, poll after poll shows us that people today desire “realness.” I suppose this is mainly due to the fact that there is so much in our world, culture, and community that is “fake” and “phony.” I remember a guy in Harrisonburg who used to go around trying to sell fake jewelry and watches. Lots of people were taken by his salesmanship and savvy tactics. The phony watches looked like a Rolex, they had Rolex lettering, and they were claimed to be a Rolex. Problem was, it wasn’t a Rolex. The business of selling fake products on the market, labeled as the real product, is a multi-billion dollar scam in the U.S. each year. Replicas, product counterfeiting, and hijacking logos and branding constitutes fraud. Yet, it happens. It happens all the time. It is happening now – somewhere.
How horrific it is when it happens under the name, “Church.” The name has been, and is, counterfeited and utilized (by some) for selfish, impure, unholy, and alternative purposes. Cults, Orders, Organizations, and even personalized ministries hide behind the overarching banner name, “Church,” to disguise and hide; to deceive and distort. Shameful to say the least.
We are to pursue truth, and life, and hope, and love. With that comes accountability. Like it or not, accountability is integrated in our follow-ship of Christ and in our relationships with others. Scripture is clear on this and teaches we have responsibility to God. Yet, for some reason or reasons, the Church usually overlooks and marginalizes the responsibility we have for holiness, purity, and seeking what is honorable to God. Within this is the “realness” subject and topic. You see, I have no problem with people overwhelmingly seeking “that which is real and authentic.” But it doesn’t seem to be fresh news or really eye-opening. I mean, doesn’t everyone desire realness at the core? Who goes to an auto dealership with the intent of purchasing a new Ford or Chevy and is fine with buying a look alike counterfeit with a Ford or Chevy logo glued on the back? Who is o.k. with spending several thousands of dollars on a Rolex spin-off that really isn’t even worth $50.00?
When it pertains to the Church – here is what gets me. And yes, it really gets me. When I hear people saying, stating, and claiming that they desire realness in Church but then, they aren’t even real with themselves. I know because I have been there before – so I can speak into the issue, out of experience. It’s been 13 years now since I was there, but I see it consistently still. Some really want the benefit of a local church, the friendship of those in the church community, and the ministry opportunities that are found – but then, they aren’t real in their commitment to God and to the people of God. Out of this, ridiculous excuses emerge and flourish. Anything and everything that can interfere and coincide with worship, prayer times, and ministry opportunities is sought. Again, realness is sought but realness is void.
It is a fact: The Church has to compete with sleeping in, kid’s schedules, sports, TV programming, fishing, boating, beach time, hunting, family, grocery shopping, cleaning, guests visiting, and weekend projects each and every week; and this is just a few of the things. Somehow our priorities have gotten out of whack. Somehow we have allowed too much to congest our time together. Somehow we have reduced the importance of having people (family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ) to share life with. May the Lord truly help us, correct us, and plant in us the seed of realness in life, realness with ourselves, realness with His Church.
“The importance of the local church to the local community can never be overstated. People need an authentic family that can surround them, love them, and support them. But people also need to be honest with God and with themselves. There are times when excuses must be purged and an inventory must be done on priorities. Where you spend your time and money, in many ways, is indicative of the God, or gods, you love and serve. God knows, and in time, people will see.” (Andy Stanley)
Lord help us in this – and may we hear and learn with open hearts! It is not about intimidation, only invitation. It is not about duty, it is about delight. Help us, O Lord! Help us truly place Your desires, Your will, at the center of our lives.
You are loved,