Speaking of yet another reason to be bitter an angry, I recently read an article in a major Christian magazine about young adults and older adults spending more time together in order to bring about healing between generations. Definitely a worthwhile endeavor, though I found myself rankled by one millennial’s assertion that she desired more transparency and authentic authenticity (not a clerical error) from us legacy Christians. Don’t get me wrong, I see much of the posing in the modern church. I’ve done some posing myself, and not for the camera. I also see it among, gasp, millennials. Posing is akin to pride and all humans struggle with it to some degree. Bot for the sake of crossing the generational divide, I will share some very authentic doubts and observations about hypocrisy that occasionally pop up in this boomer’s muddled mind.
Yes, once in a while I have doubts. Not just doubts about doctrine and interpretation of Scriptures. I have random BIG doubts, such as: what if Christ was just a man and there is no God. What if the universe is indifferent to humanity? What if the Bible was written merely from the fertile imaginations of men and, at best, is full of creative allegory? These doubts usually come upon me when reading National Geographic. You know what I mean; those articles that say the universe was formed billions and billions of years ago. Staring at those pictures from the Mars rover Curiosity showing the dry lifeless surface of planet Mars makes me feel small, alone, and incapable of comprehending the unfathomable distance in space. Such musings make me wonder if we are merely a cruel accident of chance and once we die the switch goes off and the lights go out. In other words, what if our lives have no meaning or purpose? Fortunately, hindsight helps me see the hand of God on my life and reminds me that he is real.
Need more authenticity? Why do we put so much feeling and effort into our prayers even when they feel flat and seem to go no further than the ceiling? Why do modern Christians focus more on some sins while ignoring others? Why do some congregations and clergy present a public image of caring when behind the scenes they remain unconcerned about people they wound? Why do we speak so glowingly about loving God when, at times, loving God can feel like trying to love thin air? For instance, if I tell my wife I love her, she usually smiles or gives me a hug. But if I tell God that I love him, my physical senses and my spirit do not always feel a response.
Why do many American Christians put on a front of having it all together when the truth is their life and relationships are a train wreck? Many Christian couples put forth the appearance that their marriage is healthy and good, but then one day word leaks that they are getting divorced and he has moved in with their former babysitter.
Why do we spend so much time and effort keeping up appearances? The answers are complicated. Nevertheless, I will venture one possible explanation. Do you remember when Adam and Eve screwed up in the Garden? Afterwards, one of the first things they did was to make clothes to cover their nakedness. Being completely authentic is a bit like being naked in public. Shame makes us want to cover up. We also do not feel safe when exposed. Ever since the Garden, humans have been trying to cover up. Metaphorically, the fig leafs and animal skins used by Adam and Eve have expanded to include personality and character adjustments that we cleverly create as a mask to cover our sins and flaws. We live in denial as to how we appear before God. We are always naked before God. There is nothing hidden from his eye. But we can at least hide our nakedness, wounds, sins, and flaws from each other . . . or so we think. We want to hide the ugly truth from the eyes of others.
Millennials who cry for more authenticity have a valid point. But a word of caution is appropriate: the depth of our imperfections and sins can run so deep that it can take God a lifetime to peel back our fig leafs and masks to reveal the truth that leads to healing and freedom. If God did it all at once, it might overwhelm and ruin us. That’s why we need to offer grace to each other . . . a lot of grace. Millennials might not know it, but I’d wager most of them are even now making masks and crafting fig leafs to cover the nakedness of their own flaws. And when my grandson is a young adult, he will probably call for millennials to be more . . . authentic.
Posted on August 28, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged Authentic, Authenticity, Christianity, Christians, Congregations, Generational Differences, Generations, Masks, Millennials, Posers, Shame. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.