Culture, Faith, Spiritual Growth

Authenticity in the Church: Relearning its Place for Sinners

Authenticity in the Church

This is a cry for authenticity in the church—a cry for honesty to become more important than rituals and religious programs. It is a call for the church to rediscover the importance and sanctity of being genuine.

The church must be willing to show her brokenness and the grace that accompanies it. She must relearn to cry with the broken, break for the poor, feed the hungry, and, most of all, remember how to listen.

The church always has something to say, but rarely listens to whom she speaks. In doing so, she ignores the heart of Christ that lives in these silenced voices. For Christ will be found in their dirt, sin, and destruction. He will be found in their bad choices and their broken hearts. The church must listen to the words of their brokenness, and then respond with the character and graciousness of Christ.

Until we relearn to listen, we will always be known for what we are against instead of the depth of our love. We do not have to abandon our moral beliefs, but these beliefs should not be confused as making us more moral. We are all sinners and it would do the church good to remember that it includes her.

No one is exempt.

No one is righteous.

The Hands and Feet of Christ

Feeling the presence of God is not our main priority as the church. Our mission is to be the hands and feet of Christ, to take his Gospel of love, grace, and forgiveness to those who do not know about it—to cut a path and show up right on the front doorstep of our neighbors with nothing more than grace, love, and forgiveness. Our goal is to love them and show them what Christ looks like.

Much of the world hates the church because she has done such a terrible job at showing the world the image of Christ. She is not known for her love, but for her division, conflict, hate, and unforgiveness. In many ways, she has become anti-church and anti-Christ.

The term “anti-Christ” and “church” are rarely used in the same sentence, but it’s my opinion that “anti-Christ” is not just some end-of-times evil guy with bad breath. I believe it is an action. The opposition and flip side of the characteristics of Christ. Christ is love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. When the church acts outside of these characteristics she is only left to act out of her broken human nature, and that broken nature has many “anti-Christlike” characteristics.

The human nature, our sin-nature, is full of corruption, greed, hatred, envy, and other bad attributes. It is only the character and mercy of Christ that takes up residence in our brokenness, to show his goodness and grace, and redeems it.

The church, in all her doing and in the busyness of her programs, buildings, budgets, and performances, finds herself building a wall of mirrors around herself and calling herself beautiful. Sadly, the only thing done is to fool her into believing her broken rituals reveal Christ. The rest of the world looks in from the outside and only sees a bunch of people who see into a glass dimly and look nothing like this Christ the church so believes is in their wall of mirrors.

A World in Need of Christ

Yet, the world eagerly wants to see Christ.

They long to be loved, even though they have failed and will continue to do so.

They long to have a family, because theirs was ripped away.

They long for safety, because theirs was taken as a child.

They long to have someone see them for they cannot even see themselves. They yearn to be understood for they cannot understand themselves. They long for peace where there is none and they want hope, though that word only seems like a fairy tale.

They need to see Christ because he is all these things. What we have been showing them is not Christ. It is religion and it stinks like a soured gym sock left under the bed for a month. It wreaks of dishonesty and that is not Christ.

Nothing is more important than Christ and the church must remember to reflect who he is and to rekindle her relationship with him on such a personal level—a level where his character can’t help but become her own. It will then be that the church becomes relevant again. Because love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, healing, peace, hope, and perseverance are always relevant. They lead those who receive them toward an image of who Christ really is.

Let us in the church, and as the church, show people by our actions the characteristics of Christ and less the characteristics of an unauthentic, judgmental religion. They can always get that everywhere else.

ThM recommends Losing Our Religion…to Keep Our Faith.

Brandon Gross

Brandon Gross

Brandon Gross is an author, photographer, and practitioner of the art of rock-paper-scissors. He has written two books: “Steps: 7 Ways I Found Hope in a Church that Appeared Hopeless” and is currently finishing, “I Forgive Church: Rediscovering Hope Lost in the Church.” For most of his life, Brandon grew up as a pastor’s kid, or “PK” for those who are in the club. His childhood consisted of a healthy dose of organ music and fellowship dinners all sandwiched in spit-slinging sermons that made the front row of a Gallagher “Smash-O-Matic” show seem dry. After spending 7 years working in the church management software industry and volunteering heavily in his local church, Brandon lost hope in the church; ultimately leaving, never intending to return. It took years but God helped him see through the brokenness and hurt in the church to rediscover the beauty that had been there all along. Brandon likes to say he was “one of those statistics” you hear about but was rescued from himself. He now spends his time writing and helping others rediscover hope in a broken church. It’s a messy but beautiful process and he wouldn’t like it any other way. You can connect with Brandon by going to www.brandongross.tv and you can download his free ebook “STEPS” by going to www.brandongross.tv/ebook. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_gross.
Brandon Gross
February 9, 2017

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