The topic of being “real” came up at our midweek Small Group this week, and it reminded me of an older column I had shared in this space a few years back. I thought I’d rehash it a bit, since it spells out so much my heart’s desire for The Church at Shelby Crossings.
If there’s one over-arching desire I have for the ministry of our church, it’s that we would “get real.” Whatever we do, we seek to cut through the artificial and superficial to relate to God and to one another in a sincere and genuine way. That’s true for our worship, our small groups, and all of our relationships.
No pretense. No posing. No hypocrisy. Just real faith, in a real God, in real life.
Get realis a common expression of our generation. We don’t have to define it; we know well what it means. But sometimes getting real means getting “messy.” Life is hard, and when we take the step to take off our masks and cut through the surface-level layers of image-protection–and truly live in the abounding grace of our God–it makes us vulnerable and scares us to death. But it’s worth the risk, I promise.
There’s another common expression, passed down from years gone by, which is a little more earthy than cool: warts and all.Like a wart, getting real is not very pretty sometimes. But we must always resist the temptation to cover things over and act like everything’s fine when it’s not. We are imperfect people, in process, seeking to “get real” with ourselves, with one another, and most importantly, with God.
We in the church can be sure of one thing: the world is checking us out, not expecting that we would be perfect, but seeing if we are real. There is no greater turn-off to an unchurched world than artificial, hypocritical people, especially in church. They want to see substance, sincerity, authenticity. And often, they judge by our level of authenticity, how real they think our God is.
So, instead of acting like we’ve got it together, maybe we would all do well to work together to get it together, together. That’s what the body of Christ is all about–living under God’s grace and sharing in community with other imperfect people like ourselves, seeking to become all that He has called us to be. And that starts with getting real with Him…warts and all.
My prayer for each of us is that we’ll experience the real-life joy of a real relationship with a very real God, even in the midst of all the real struggles and pain that we all face each week. God knows where we are, and He sees beyond our masks, and desires to meet us where we are and “get real” with us today.
May His sufficient grace be poured out in your life this week. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.