The unspoken rule in the church seems to be that the longer you have been a Christian, the less you can hurt and suffer through problems. This is especially true if you are in leadership. I say this because I am currently reading a good book by a pastor who committed suicide in the fall of last year. And most people – other than his family – seemed to be unaware that he was struggling with issues. After all, he was a church leader. He was a believer.
We seem to have this wrong view of what it means to be a Christian. We need to remember that having issues and facing problems is not a lack of faith but simply the way life is unfolding at that moment. In reality, the more you give your life to God, the more you become a threat to the Enemy! So, for Christians, we can expect – as Jesus said – that we will have troubles, trials, and tribulation. Life will not always be gentle to us.
I mean, let’s look at Paul. I would consider him closer to God than I am or than you are. I’d be happy just to get a glimpse of the second heaven, and this brother was invited to the third heaven!
Yet still, knowing that God’s power is perfected in weakness, Paul declares, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He would boast all the more gladly. Not because he’s proud of his weaknesses but because he’s confident in God’s response to them. And, the church culture today seems to require, often demand, that we hide our weaknesses.
It is unfortunate that we have churches today where we cannot admit that we are not perfect. That we have issues. That we are struggling. That everything is not alright. The reality is there’s no such thing as a perfect Christian. The reality is there is no such thing as a strong Christian. Just weak Christians relying on a strong God. And, because weakness and trouble seem to indicate to others that we are not living right or, heaven forbid, we have sin in our lives, we wear a mask and talk and relate in such a way that the message others receive from us is that things are great even when they are not.
Proverbs 24:16 states that “the righteous fall seven times.”
Not three times.
Note four times.
Not five times.
Not six times.
The righteous fall seven times.
Remember, we are not talking about the wicked. We are talking about the people who are getting it right. They still fall over and over again. But by God’s grace, we don’t stay in our failure. The verse in context says, “though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” We all fall. The Spirit just doesn’t want us to stay there. When we hide our moments of failure, we are also hiding our moments of grace. We are not calling upon the Spirit to lift us up, dust us off, and encourage us to try again.
Being a Christian is not about being morally perfect and constantly having all the right answers. It is about daring to be real and no longer pretending that everything is great. Being a believer means not settling for our “Sunday best face” but being real, transparent, and vulnerable. It means not being a fake – because that is hypocritical. And, Jesus was not a fan of the hypocrites of His day. They were called the Pharisees, the religious leaders and teachers.
Remember, even if you can fool the people, you can’t fool God. He knows your heart. He knows what you are thinking. And He knows what you are going through. So, to receive His grace we need to dare to be real and never settle for fake.