My wife and I visited a new church in our neighborhood on a recent Sunday morning. I felt anxious as we strolled up to the front door. It was the type of anxiety I always feel when about to meet new people. Will I be on my best behavior? Will they like me? Will I like them? Will they see through my facade to the real me? Well, they did see through my facade.
After exchanging pleasantries with the greeter at the door, I scooted into the safety of a back row seat. While waiting for the service to begin, I started reading the handout the greeter gave me at the door. I never got past the first paragraph. Here is what it said:
“Inside these doors you’ll discover people who struggle with lying, cheating, envy, greed, sexual impurity, gossiping, back-biting, bickering, anger, swaggering, bullying, cruelness, arrogance, meanness, stupidity, impatience, hate, judgment, pride, and even more.”
Wow, at first glance that didn’t read like the best marketing plan to attract new people to the church. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. We have an innate human tendency to put our best foot forward, make a good first impression, hide the crazy as long as possible, dazzle people with our best qualities and prevent others from seeing our imperfections. But no matter how hard we try to conceal the flaws, they will betray us when the pressure is on.
Do you know what engineers and technology professionals sometimes call imperfections in new products? Bugs! That’s us. We have bugs in our lives.
My dad always told me you can do anything you set your mind to. It encouraged me to be ambitious. But the reality of life taught me there are some bugs we cannot fix by ourselves. In fact, I’m not certain we can take ultimate responsibility for fixing any of our bugs. I think God does the fixing. Don’t get me wrong. I know we can’t sit idle and expect God to do all the work. We have to choose to fix the bugs and then act. It can take years simply to have that aha realization about a bug that’s causing a lot of problems in our life. That’s where God is indispensible. He’s in the business of revealing bugs and helping us exterminate them.
So the next time some mocking non-believer accuses us Christians of being hypocrites, we can say yes, we are, and so are many of those who accuse us of hypocrisy. The difference is there are Christians among us willing to face the reality of their bugs and, with God’s help, exterminate them, or at least minimize them. This is simply a necessary part of the path to maturity and depth. It’s the people who don’t think they have any serious bugs or need help with the bugs they know about that I worry about.
Yep, the folks at Crosspointe Church in Natomas, California, saw through my façade to the real me. They even listed some of my characteristics in the first paragraph of their bulletin. You might see some of yours in their bulletin, as well.