Have you ever found yourself wanting to avoid certain contexts — contexts where you can’t be as broken and bruised as you truly are; where you can’t be as weary and confused as you are; where being completely genuine in your hurting would be completely unforgivable.
As I mention this I am thinking particularly of Christian gatherings or church congregations. In how many instances are we guilty of being an ununified people because we do not let battered believers and sobered sinners be at home in our midst?
In the last few months I have gotten to see particularly how exclusive the road of suffering can be. Sometimes we who go through difficulties are encouraged to reach out, to become more committed to the local church and to become enmeshed with other believers in fellowship.
I used to see this as a fine expectation; those who struggle should not have to struggle alone. And I have heard that verse on not forsaking the “gathering together” of the assembly of believers times without number — even if they flowed from voices in my head reminding me of the coaching that I could expect from others on the subject if it appeared I was failing to obey it.
But these expectations make me tired. I have spent too much time feeling confused by the word and counsels themselves, let alone the motives behind them. Are we so concerned about the right appearance — and dare I say performance — of our parishoners that we should step over their broken hearts, bodies and minds to insist that they fulfill the Word of God the way that we see as the best?
What is the thing of bigger concern here? Convincing others of their need to labor to our satisfaction, or seeking how we might labor to God’s satisfaction on their behalf? Are we forgetting how our Lord has proclaimed the poor in spirit,
Those who mourn, etc
to be blessed in His sight?
Are we looking for God to wash and purify our vision of others — even while their imperfections and weakness in the faith are blemishes that bother our eyes and test our hearts?