It is so simple and obvious that I feel stupid writing about it. On the other hand, we all (including myself) must be pretty ignorant because it is a pattern which populates the stories that surround us on a daily basis. We have no shortage of news around devastated homes, marriages, and friendships. Further, this is definitely not an inside the church versus outside the church type of reality. The truth is that we see an unfortunate steady flow of implosion stories within the church.
The reason we are seeing this is so simple to identify and yet so incredibly difficult to change. The Church at large is not a place where real confession and repentance is welcomed and practiced. It is not practiced because of the realities it exposes. Those realities are contrary to the stories we tell and the images we too often project. Those hidden realities allow people to see that we are not perfect in all of our ways.
This type of confession and repentance is not welcomed in the church because people do not know how to receive from someone else what they themselves do not practice. When one is so bold as to confess an intimate personal struggle the listener is then confronted with an example to follow or squash. The latter seems to be too common amidst our communities of faith.
This finds the church as a group of people who are being eaten up by hidden struggles. These struggles grow and develop as the initial pleasures wain in hopes of a greater reward. Weeks or months or years will develop these hidden struggles which will inevitably destroy and create a devastating fallout reaching broadly beyond just friends and family.
This is an epidemic which all of us must own. We must do the hard work of confession and repentance. We must welcome the exposing light of Jesus Christ into every single area of our lives. Yes, it is so that we as followers of Jesus can walk in the joys and hope of an intimate relationship with Him but that is not all. We quickly believe the lie that these struggles are only about us. Our hidden struggles will devastate the lives of those around us who we love so deeply.
We must also be a people who welcome the hard work of confession and repentance from those around us. We must not run away from the difficult conversations and uncomfortable moments. We have to be those who love well enough to welcome this level of authenticity through our own modeling as well as our prayerful support of others. Many people around you are paralyzed by hidden struggles partly because they are scared of how you will react to knowing the truth. Love those around you well enough for safe authentic conversations to flourish without the fear of greater shame.
This will change your life and it will change the lives of those around you. Walk in light and invite others with you so that what is hidden in the darkness does not overcome you and those around you. The grace of our God through the bloodshed of Jesus Christ is more than enough to rescue you from any and all hidden struggles. His grace through our repentance is a rejuvenating and healing salve of hope.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:20-21 ESV)