You are so good at exposing yourself.
These were not the words I expected to ever hear at the end of a church service, but nevertheless they were the words that were spoken to me last Sunday.
You may wonder what had gone on in that service to make the person (who shall remain nameless) utter these words but I can assure you it was nothing to do with taking any clothes off.
The service was the one I wrote about yesterday where I felt quite emotional at communion and as we were talking about the Psalms I was also fairly honest about a few personal things.
I was being encouraged because I was willing to be open and honest about myself and this is something that isn’t always easy especially for many people in the UK.
Being open and honest is something that should be fairly natural for Christians. The Bible encourages us to encourage one another, to carry one another’s burdens and to confess our sins to one another. These things require a huge amount of honesty and these are things that are central to basic Christian living.
It may be that you’re not open and honest with other people and this is because you have had bad experiences and have been hurt. There’s someone I see very occasionally and when they ask how I am I always say fine whether I am or not because I don’t trust them to keep a confidence. Some people delight in gossip because it makes them seem important and we should be wary of what we tell these people.
If we struggle with being open and honest then it may also be that we need to grow some more emotionally. Hiding the truth and presenting ourselves as something we are not is often a sign of insecurity and I believe that a part finding of finding fulfilment in life involves being free from this.
If you are a church leader, one of the things that you can do to help your church is to tell them the truth about who you really are (yes, you can expose yourself on a Sunday morning as well!) When we project false images of our success and spirituality then we create and unrealistic and unfair pressure on the people in our church communities and in doing so we act like a Pharisee.
If you are reluctant to be honest then I would suggest building bridges of trust by perhaps thinking of one person who you could confide in and letting things grow from there.
With all these thoughts about being open and honest I want to offer one word of caution. When we are feeling really low and we are being constantly negative we need to remember that if that is all people ever hear from us then they will eventually tune out.
I remember a time when I was really struggling over a period of time and in my honesty I would tell people about my struggles and then I got into a rut where I would only ever tell people about my struggles. As a church leader I remembered (eventually anyway) that I am called to be an encourager too. When we look for things that encourage us and ways that God is at work, even in darkest times, it is a great way to cope with discouragement.
Jesus taught that what we say is an overflow of what is in our hearts and if all (and I emphasise all) we ever say is negative then it shows what is ruling and dominating our lives.
As we are open and honest, people will see our joys and sorrows but they will also see what is the most important to us. In my honesty, I pray that people will see God at work.