“Pastor Ron, my life is a mess and I don’t know what to do to fix it.”
I received a call from a frantic young man recently. He had made some serious mistakes and now desperately wants to bring the broken pieces together again. I’m not worried about exposing someone’s identity, because that exact scenario is repeated dozens of times in the course of a year. It happens nearly once a week. While I’m no longer shocked anymore at the severity of someone’s struggles, I still am often surprised when I find out who some of the people struggling are in my church. This young man seemed to have everything going for him.
Some of us become good at playing church. You’ve seen it many times. The person on Sunday gives the appearance that everything is fine, but when you really get to know them, you realize that things aren’t always as they appear. I call it “playing church” when we become skilled at pretending everything is okay, but never really allowing the church to be the church. Jesus came for the sick….the broken…and the wounded. (Paraphrase of Mark 2:17) When we are doing that, then we are, in my opinion, at our best as a church.
Here are 4 ways I’ve seen people play church and mask the reality of their life:
Happiness - They put on a false smile so you can’t see the tears they want to shed.
Humor - Some people hide the drama of their life by laughing off the pain. Sometimes the jokester is hiding something inside he or she doesn’t want you to see.
Hiding - Some people in pain take a step back from others for a while. They stop attending. Others find ways to stay busy, over-committing themselves to hide the pain.
Holiness - These people pretend their life is wonderful, that they are making wise decisions, that they are “good little Christians”, but the reality is they’ve made a mess of things and don’t know how to fix them.
One of the keys to a healthy church is continuing to learn how to engage people beyond the smiles of Sunday morning. In our church, this makes our small groups and service opportunities critically important to our overall strategy. We must get people in vital, growing relationships if we really hope to know them and minister to them.
How does your church do this?
What would you add to my list? How have you seen people mask the reality of their life?
Would you be completely transparent? Which of these have you or are you using to hide who your really are these days? Are you playing church? Why not let the real you be known? Take a chance that those who love Jesus will love you even with your brokenness. That’s what followers of Christ do…because that’s what Christ does!