I was wrong. Please forgive me.
There’s a looooong history of people from outside ‘the church’ calling the people inside a church ‘hypocrites.’ I think I get why. “Everyone seems so happy.” or “I can’t go to church unless I have it all together” are some paraphrasing of what I’ve heard. Perhaps the biggest reason some call Christians ‘hypocrites’ has to lie somewhere in what we pretend to be. We say we’re one thing, but act another.
We praise God with one side of our mouths, but curse our ‘friend’ with the other. We act one way on Sunday, another way when we’re with our co-workers. We smile, embrace hugely, and say, “I”ll pray for you.” But the recipient of our hug knows we sometimes. . . gossip. OR we just never admit the wrong. That’s my hang-up. If Christians stood up more and say, “I”m broken, so broken and this is how I’m broken.” Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
I’ve been to several AA meetings. That’s right Alchoholics Anonymous meetings. Perhaps you’ve been, wish you had been, or have seen the movies. Typically the meeting starts with everyone introducing themselves. Upon naming their name, the members also state their biggest addiction or faults.
“Hi my name is Jeff, and I’m an alchohlic.”
“Hi my name is Sue, and I’m a recovery drug addict.”
Within the first few minutes, the tone is set. These people are NOT hear to brag about what they’ve done well, what’s going right in their life, or how good they are. Period. It’s all about the darkness. The addiction. The drug of choice – be it beer, booze, over-the-counter, prescription drugs, food, guilt, shame, anger. Whatever their big darkness is. They share. I mean, we share.
It is the most like church I’ve ever experienced. Me, who’s been in dozens of different churches. Denominations. Languages. Small groups. Community Groups. Service Groups. Mission Trips. You name it, I’ve dabbled. But I’ve never seen this much church* from Christians. The AA members have more church happening than this heart has ever held before.
They hold nothing back. It’s right there. You can’t miss it. “Hi my name is Nicole, and I’m a horrible person.” “Hi, people call me Boehrig, and I’m selfish to my core.” “Hi my name is Nicole and I’m addicted to food.” The darkness is named.
Something happens with the powerful confession. It compels me. To confess as well. All of the sudden, I’m searching myself for the darkness. Not because I want to have something to say, but because these people have trusted me with their sin, their wrongs. The weights are lifted. They aren’t chained. And neither am I, any longer.
You see, CONFESSION is a huge part that I think we’re missing as a body of Christ-followers. Forgive me for not quoting or citing other evidences here. It’s late, and I’m ready to sleep. But I must tell you, that I want this to change. I dream of a church that I walk into that feels and is like AA. We start with confession. Move on to how we daily overcome our darkness. Encourage each other on the path. But even before that, before we even enter the doors. We come to this place because we know we’re a screwed-up kinda person. And we need grace. That’s really why we come, isn’t it?
We confess because we seek grace from God. and from our fellow humans.
Plus, in a place, a church, where the Christians all confess that we’re broken and in need of a Savior, we wouldn’t have so many hypocrites. And if we did, well, they’d be compelled to confess that.
The walls are broken down.
People who stumble upon the place, listen, and then go out may not say the things they’ve been saying. Instead of, “That place is full of hypocrites,” there might be more, “I’ve never seen anything like that before. That’s the most Christ I’ve seen in one place.”
And the grace pours out.
Because public confession is something I think we need more of in our institutional church, I’ll be posting some of my confessions. Feel free to add, comment, share grace, rage violently against, journal further, seek time to process, or time to forgive, or join in. Really, I’d love if we could just share with the people we’ve wronged.
First up, I’ll be confessing to Newark – her children, the homeless people, my co-workers, my friends. It promises to be uncomfortable, but real.
* when i say ‘church’, i’m talking the universal, united group of people, body of believers, anyone who gets together with someone else in the name of G-d, Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim God. Not just a building. But sometimes meeting in such places.
Since publishing, I received this daily email meditation from Richard Rohr. Found it intriguing that it talks about the power of AA.