The other night at community group, my wife and I sat down with another couple, and asked "how are you doing?" This was the third time in as many days that we had asked friends that same question. And to our surprise, all three friends we asked said the exact same thing: "Do you want the church answer or the real answer?"
And without waiting for us to reply, they each said: "The church answer is, 'we're doing great!' The real answer is, things aren't so great. It's been rough." They were essentially saying, "We know we should be further along in our spiritual walk by now that we don't have these kinds of weeks anymore, but here we still are."
In Mark 2:17, Jesus said,“It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The church answer
The truth is that "we're struggling" should be the church answer. God has caused us to be born again, not so we can fly above the clouds for the rest of our life, but so there is hope beneath the clouds, and that often comes from belonging to a church body that can encourage and motivate us to keep going.
I pray that River City Church can be the kind of place where we are free to be vulnerable with each other; free to let the tears roll down our cheeks and drip on the table because we know it's a safe place to ditch the pretense and be real without judgment or surprise.
Jesus came for the broken.
He's not afraid of our emotions. He's not embarrassed by them. He's not reaching for the doorknob or trying to change the subject.
He gently picks us up, puts us on his shoulder, and says, "I know. Come with me." Then he carries us to the cross where we stand face to face with the reality that we're in far worse shape that we could ever realize, and that he's still here holding us instead of letting us go. There's no need to hide from him – he already sees it all... and yet his love for us hasn't changed.
If you don't have that kind of church family where you can be real, you can be broken, and you can be really broken, it might be time for you to move on and find a new church. We can't do this alone. We need friends in the body of Christ who aren't afraid to throw their shoulder into our burdens and help us carry them. Seek out a body of believers where people are real and aren't afraid to say, "We're not okay."
That's the real church answer.