@@Christians are experts in denial.@@ We find ways to cover our tracks, to hide the problem, and to justify ourselves with a string of excuses. We've become experts at putting on a facade of a happier, more behaved version of ourselves. We hide the problem while appearing to have it all together.
Jesus confronts this kind of problem directly when he says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matthew 23:27-28)
Outward appearances might impress the people around you, but they're denying the deeper problem. The beautifully ornate tomb might impress your friends, but the dead bones on the inside are hardly something to brag about.
Unfortunately, Christians like to make a show of the dead bones. As Christians we perpetuate a cycle of hiding by emphasizing good behavior and covering our own sinfulness with a mask. We enable addictions to morality as a solution to the dead bones when it's only Christ who can raise the dead.
None of us ever intend to enable this problem. We'd never dare lead somebody away from Jesus. But we struggle to be honest about the kind of people we really are. We struggle to admit the dead bones that we've kept hidden for so long.
Honesty is scary. Honesty would require us to take off our mask.
Consider what Dr. Henry Cloud wrote about this:
“It is interesting to compare a legalistic church with a good AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] group. In the church, it is culturally unacceptable to have problems; that is called being sinful. In the AA group, it is culturally unacceptable to be perfect; that is called denial. In one setting people look better but get worse, and in the other, they look worse but get better.”
Does an AA group at times look more like the Church than the local church does? Does the honesty of AA at times lead to recovery in Christ more than the the local church does?
Grace frees us to drop our masks.
@@Sin is a problem, but it's not a problem worth hiding.@@ Grace frees us to come out of hiding and to be honest about our sin. Jesus frees us to drop our masks in order that we might be a community that says, "Me too." Good behavior is not what makes us belong, it's our collective need for and rescue by the Savior. We are all worse than we want to let on.
While denial might give us one more day of pretending there is no problem, it's only in the honesty of the problem that we experience the freedom of grace. Jesus rescues us from denial. It's in the work of Christ that we are assured that no depths of our depravity will make Jesus deny us. @@Jesus is not just for the well-behaved, he's for the train-wrecks too.@@