Like so many catch phrases in Christian circles, you read or hear the term, “being real” or “transparent” as often as “missional” or and “community group” or the ever popular “relevant”. As the face of the church changes, these new phrases become more and more familiar and that is a good thing. I love it that the church is working at reaching the lost in 2013, which may seem quite different from what it looked like in 1985.
It would seem that “being real and transparent” is a virtue that allows us the beauty of honesty in our relationships with each other and with God. But when did transparency become permission for being crass? I read an interesting article this week on the internet ( and if it’s on the internet it has to be true right? Meet my date, he’s a French model….) in which a young woman bemoaned the status of the church and offered her critique of the ills that face the Christian community including, selfishness, greed etc, etc etc. Midway through the article, she offers up crass language as a descriptive term for her feelings and then explains her choice of wording as” what she was thinking” so she may have well said it. After all, she says, “I’m keeping it real”.
I thought about this article for several days. I thought a lot about my attempts at transparency in the past. I thought about what it means to “be real” and whether or not I am authentic when I pick and choose which thoughts, ideas and feelings I share with you, and cyberspace . Am I less authentic when I keep certain feelings inside and those I hold close to my heart?
My own thoughts are really irrelevant, so I won’t bore you with my opinion of her less than stellar choice of words. I will say that as I age, I have less tolerance for the shock jock factor in Christianity. So lets move past my opinion, which finds the middle school language used by an educated adult trying desperately to express herself disheartening at best and do what really matters….look to Scripture. It is the plumb line that dismisses our opinions as exactly what they are….dust when compared place of the ageless solid standard of the Truth that Does Not Change. There in lies the beauty of the ever-changing church; there are many things that may change but the foundation remains the same.
So is there a place for honest, frank exchange of feelings with God and his people? Absolutely! Some of the dearest Psalms are the heartfelt cries of David seeking answers from a God he feels has forsaken him. Job asks the hard questions to a real, seemingly angry God. The difference? They have the good sense to approach God for Who He is…..God. Since when do we feel that “honesty” allows us flippancy? Is God really impressed that you express yourself in gutter language? And let’s be honest…. are you benefitting the body when you give us the sordid details of ALL the thoughts that ran through your mind during your last crisis?
The advice you give your five-year old is applicable to us as well, “We don’t have to share everything that we think and feel. Somethings should stay private.”
I am all for carrying each others burdens and knowing how to pray specifically. I love that God has placed people in my life that I can be completely honest with and share struggles.
But think before you speak. He is still God. He is still holy. As Isaiah received the hot burning coal to cleanse his mouth, it would do us all good to check ourselves before we speak to our Creator.