When MTV launched the first of the modern reality shows of its kind in 1992, each episode began with the following introduction:
“This is the true story… of eight strangers… picked to live in a house…work together and have their lives taped… to find out what happens… when people stop being polite… and start getting real…The Real World”
Television has since become saturated with sleezy and trashy reality shows, and many are now scripted and full of “cast members” looking for their big break in entertainment. But those early episodes of The Real World were pretty authentic.
Unfortunately in the Church, we’re all fake. I’m fake, you’re a phony and just about everyone you meet in church is putting up a front. We don’t want people to know what is really going on with us. Many of us have gotten up the nerve to share something in the past, and the person on the receiving end has not been faithful with it. It’s turned into gossip, or judgment, or ridicule. It’s important to be careful with whom we share our personal details. Someone should earn that trust. It can be risky to open up and share with someone. I normally test it by sharing something smaller and less significant and see how they handle it.
In order to have genuine Christian community, it’s important to be yourself. That doesn’t mean airing all your dirty laundry the first service you visit a church, or unload all of your problems on people when you meet them. But you can be yourself, be comfortable and confident in who you are, and give people a chance to get to know you. And if you’re not interested in hanging out with someone, don’t lie and tell them “we should get together sometime.” Just be polite, be Christ-like to everyone, and focus on being friends with those you really get along with. But there’s no need to be fake with people.
It’s time for the Church to see what happens when we look in the mirror at the mask we’re hiding behind, take it off and start getting real. We need to stop playing church and start taking discipleship seriously. We need to stop gossiping about others’ sins and start praying for them. We need to find someone we trust to help keep us accountable. Someone who can both encourage us, and also call us out when we’re being fake. We don’t need to stop being polite…but definitely need to start getting real.
For more posts in the series “Get Real: Authenticity” click the catagory on the right sidebar.