A view inside the pressure cooker: the prettiest church dress, the lips that buzz from the fake smile, children that must have matching overalls, the right job... It’s boiling at more than 212 degrees inside this steam pot. Satan whispers as the water churns, but his soft voice is megaphone loud: “Keep pretending. Don’t tell them the truth. Just don’t.”
As Christians, the world tells us to present the appearance of perfection. So we do, even with our brothers and sisters at church. It is so important to be vulnerable with our fellow believers, though. This is what was intended in a Christian community.
I struggle with this. I would like to be able to speak the truth when someone gives the usual: “How are you?” at church, but I am the type of person that must first sort through my mind’s junky closet before speaking what’s on my heart. If you’re the type who analyzes constantly, you know what I mean. I stress about saying things to my Christian brothers or sisters, and if I do actually say something, I think that I shouldn’t have shared. It made me look like embarrassing filth, I’d think.
I am embarrassing filth. A redeemed mess, thank God! A murky pond with some clear spots. In other words, I am just like my fellow followers of Christ at church. This is hard to remember. Sometimes I converse with my Christian brothers and sisters in the same way I converse with a couple of my more judgmental biological family members: “Here is what I am doing now and here is what I am doing tomorrow.” And in telling you what I am doing tomorrow, I can show you that I am happy or pretty or smart. With them, I am the water trapped inside the pressure cooker, bubbling beneath a metal cover that stifles my soul.
C.S. Lewis writes, “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, an act of love foreshadowing the sacrifice he is about to make on the cross. In the passage, Jesus says: “For I have given you an example: that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:15-16). Jesus humbled himself before his disciples and before his Father. Jesus loved those around him sacrificially. It was a vulnerability that left him open to ridicule by many. It is integral to be sacrificial in our love for our fellow Christians because this is an act of submission to God. The only way to love sacrificially is to be vulnerable.
So tell the truth, even if it makes you appear hard to love. Being vulnerable with your brothers and sisters in Christ is what God intends for his church.