Everyone has flaws. Every human being. Some drink their lives away. Some lose their home to the allure of the slots. Some are hopelessly addicted to the latest, harder, stronger drug. Some can’t make it a day without finding the latest pornography of their choice. Some compulsively lie to create a better image of themselves. But, no matter who you are or where you are I can guarantee that you have vices. Yet we don’t hear about them often. When you ask someone, “How are you?” or “What do you do?” the conversation seems to steer toward the positive aspects of their lives. Sometimes it will be more focused on what bad has happened to them, but rarely when asked “how are you?” will someone respond with, “I’m thinking of killing myself tonight.” or “Just trying to make it to the next drink.” Some may try to pretend they don’t have problems. They try to rationalize that because everyone is flawed, flaws are not bad. They are willing to admit their alcoholism, because who doesn’t enjoy getting drunk? Yet there is a conversation within all of this that is missing. People refuse to show themselves as broken, weak, and vulnerable.
Why do we not tell people of the vices? Perhaps a part of it comes from pride. We are unwilling to seem like we don’t have it all together. We like to be seen as good, upstanding, citizens. But, who decides what is an upstanding citizens? Who chooses what is an acceptable picture of mankind. If our standards of our fellow-man changed, would not the inner image change as well. We live in a world that defines success as perfection. We live in a culture that desires the end result more than progress. But, that is just the world. I am not to look to the world for my image. Yet, when I turn to the Church, when I turn to those that call themselves Christians, this ideology only worsens. Within the church, the idea of holiness has transcended to a type of spiritual perfection. For if you have faith, you surely will be healed. But what of the confession to fellow brothers? How am I to feel comfortable to tell my fellow brothers in Christ of my sins, when I know I run the risk of disgrace. Funny, how a movement started on the ideas of Love and Grace would create so much disgrace. Pastors need to look perfect, which leads to Jimmy Swaggart situations. The problem is not sin. We all have sin. We all fail. We all are flawed. The problem is the way that the body deals with it. We do not allow for people to come, confess and be healed. We preach hate towards homosexuals. We preach Gods hate of sin. We preach holiness beyond grace. and what comes of it? People are afraid to show their flaws. People are afraid to be honest with each other. So sin becomes a secret. We hide it away, because if we let it show, we run the risk of being pushed to the fringes of our supposed communities. There is a problem when a member of the church is too afraid to tell their fellow brother what they are going through. Not only is this destroying the message that Christ died for, it perpetuates so many of the problems it ostracizes its member for having.
If only we could be honest. If only we could come together, as a community and share our flaws. Be honest about our vices. I truly believe if christian community was more about being honest and loving instead of being holy, more holiness would come of it. For when we can talk to each other, and when the atmosphere is willing to listen and care, that is where healing comes. AA has grasped this idea. They realize that change does not come from judgment and demands. Change comes from honesty and communication. This is an idea that goes farther back than AA. Look at the biblical narrative. In the beginning, G-d created rules and punishments. He would judge all those who went against him, and what came of it? People kept failing. Now, maybe if we were more like G-d we would have been able to deal with this type of reproach, but we were not. The Jews failed, G-d punished and judged, which lead to them failing more. Finally, getting tired of this pattern, fueled by our failure, G-d tried a different approach. Enter the world: Jesus. Love without limit. A man who listened intently with love, and told those “Go, and sin no more.” Even James gets it right when he says :
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ” James 5:16
This is not talking about the oppressive system of confessing, that has sadly plagued the word, but of liberating honesty with your fellow brothers and sisters.
I am not talking about accepting sin. I am not talking about embracing flaws. I am talking about embracing humanity, and loving each other as who we really are. Creating a trusting environment where people can tell their most difficult struggles to each other, and from that healing comes. We need to realize that we are all in the same boat, pastors and child molesters. Priests and politicians. And when we start creating divisions of who is and who isn’t, who has and who has not, we not only allow the problems to perpetuate, we breed self-righteousness, which is just as bad as the failures that are being judged. To quote Watchman Nee:
“Just as GOD hates unrighteousness, so He abhors self-righteousness…Whatever has the intent and desire to develop ourselves that we may be seen and admired by others belongs to the flesh”
We need to move beyond judgment to love, the truest fulfillment of the covenant. Churches should be the most trusting, loving atmospheres that exist. We should be communities where people come to confess and be healed. We need to realize we are all flawed, we are all fallen. It is only then that G-d will begin to help us lift each other up. We need to work together. Holiness is not created alone. It is only when we allow our flaws to come out in the open and be seen that will holiness truly be found. I find it ironic that the holiness movement is the very thing that is hindering true holiness. We need to realize that flaws are what make us human. We need to stop demanding perfection and demand honesty. For when we demand perfection, we only get lies. In creating this atmosphere we will not only help people to get over their vices, we will also help people realize that they are not defined by this problem. We are all clean and beautiful in the eyes of the Lord, why are we not in our fellow brothers eyes? We need to stop hiding who we really are, and come forward so that we can become a powerful, holy kingdom of failures.