Monday, February 26, 2007

words for my thoughts...

Over the last several months, I've been puzzling over a difference in viewpoint held by different ones of my church family. I've had an instinct of what my opinion was, but had been unable to voice it. Today, while reading the latest book on my reading list, 'imagine. a vision for christians in the arts' by steve turner i finally found the words for my opinion!

The discussion in question is 'what does being real really look like in community?' Are we to wear masks to hide the sin and pain we are struggling with in order to not burden or disturb the people we come in contact with -- specifically our Christian brothers and sisters?? Obviously not. But is the only answer then to walk around totally 'naked' -- willing to share every sin and wound with anyone who will listen so that we don't come across as hypocrites? I should hope not.

I have a weakness.

I need to confess it here before going any further.

I have a hard time seeing in shades of grey. Because of my personality and life experiences, it is far easier for me to see things in black and white. This is the reason I struggled with the dilemma mentioned above. Some of my readers may have found the perfect balance of an answer to the dilemma. As I mentioned, I have not yet been able to do that. Until this morning....

"Admission of personal sin has to be treated carefully because we live in a climate of exposure. Artists [the audience for this particular book] are routinely commended for being 'daring', 'honest', 'frank' and 'disturbing' by admitting to base desires. [this sentence is followed by some examples of just that sort of artwork].

But the attitude behind such gut spilling is not one of remorse and shame but of brazenness. The sin, in their view, would be to hold back, and the virtue is in telling all. The Christian is bound by some important considerations. There is a responsibility not to use examples of our vileness as entertainment. "For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret" (Ephesians 5:12). We must put the needs of others before our own: 'Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others" (1 Corinthians 10:24).

I sometimes hear Christians justify mentioning their weaknesses in their art because 'I am a sinner like everyone else.' That is just not true. The Christian isn't a sinner like everyone else because a Christian is a forgiven sinner, and this alters his or her whole relationship to sin."
[this last statement is even more interesting to me since Pastor Craig's sermon from yesterday)

For any of you who share my struggle with an out-of-balance-black-and-white-thinking-paralysis, let me be really clear....

i am not saying that we are wrong to share our stories in very real and open ways with each other. We are commanded to 'confess our faults to one another that we may be healed.'

At the same time, i am saying that i think we need to watch our motives (hence the scripture qualifier, 'confess...that we may be healed').

Am i speaking from a place of humility that displays Christ's strength in comparison to my weakness OR

am i just brazenly and unashamedly so self-absorbed that either 1) i refuse to air any of my 'dirty laundry' in the appropriate times and places in order to maintain an image or just plain-old appear 'mysterious'

2) am i intent on building a 'fan club' for the personal sins and struggles that i've built my identity on and then masking all this self-disclosure in the premise of "I'm just being real."

i admit that i'm on a little bit of a rant today, but i'm so tired of hearing that phrase, "i'm just being real" as if that absolves us of any personal responsibility or consequences. i'm starving to hear more people say, "i have sinned and i repent and i'm pressing on toward the prize of Christ."

can you even imagine what our community would look like if we all owned that attitude??
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