Yesterday we began by looking at the problem of superficial conversations. When asked how we're doing, we often respond "I'm good" because for four common reasons. The first being that we prefer to remain undiscovered. Here's three additional reasons:
We prefer to keep our private business our private business and besides, we cannot trust any of these people with our private affairs.
There’s really no one I can trust at this church. There’s really no one who “gets” me. I’m the youngest here. I’m the oldest here. I’m the dumbest here. I’m the wisest here. There’s really no one who I can relate to here. It’s no one’s business besides me and God. It’s how my parents raised me, keep up your appearances and don’t show anyone your weakness. God knows my heart, why do you need to know it? God saw my sin, and I already asked forgiveness, why should I confess to you? If my private life became public, I’d be ashamed and dishonor my family. If my private life became public, people would think less of me. It doesn’t help you to know my issues. If I tell you my sinful thoughts, my whole life will be ruined. The Christian life is a private one.
The lie behind ‘private’ things remaining ‘private’ is that God’s church is ill-equipped and unqualified to be trusted to do their job. In other words, by refusing to admit your real emotions, troubles, or sins, you refuse to let your brothers and sisters in Christ practice and perform longsuffering, patience, exhortation, affirmation, peacefulness, gentleness, self-control, and love. You are effectively firing them from their very God-given jobs before they even get an interview! You might think they are ill-equipped and unqualified, but God’s Word tells us something very different in 1 Cor 12:18-27 and Heb 13:20-21. God’s Word has much greater power than my words, so please read those passages as you consider the following. Sincerely, I would ask you stop reading this article, read those passages, and return here.
God has placed each local church for the individual Christian’s growth in maturity and sanctification, to include the pastor. God’s church is to be the powerhouse for authentic conversations. God’s church is to be the place where burdens are shared and halved, and where joys are shared and doubled. God’s church is to be the point of productive conversations where private can become personal and personal can progress toward Holy. If sin and sorrow were to be private matters, then God’s inspired word would make absolutely no sense in Lamentations, John 11:35, Matt 18:15-20, Titus 3:9-11, Gal 6:1, 2 Cor 5:5-11, James 5:18-20, 1 Tim 5:19-20, and many, many more.
The Gospel response is when you read God’s Word, you should see God is calling you to bring the private things in your life to your brothers and sisters in Christ. He will equip them to love you correctly and fully. God’s Word literally says that if you confess your sins to a brother, you will be healed (James 5:18). I contend that James is not telling the early believers that they will be healed physically when they confess their sin but rather his main argument is that you will be healed spiritually. To be sure, Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is the only way you can be cured of your sin. However, being cured of something does not mean there is not any persisting pain. You can break your leg, have it surgically fixated, and now you are cured of your fracture. However, if you’ve ever had a broken leg you know that the initial fixation does not mean absence of pain. For most, it seems the recovery is actually MORE painful due to physical therapy. Physical therapy really, really hurts at first and then slowly over time you build strength, and you can actually help others by encouraging them in their exercises at the clinic. This is like the local church, confessing your sin might really, really hurt at first but over time, healing, strength, and joy will come.
We don’t want to bother anyone. If I’m honest about my feelings or thoughts, I’ll just be a burden. No one really cares about my problems anyway.
I’ve told my sins to this church in the past and I got burned. I told my sin to another church and I could not handle the ridicule. I tried to do that James 5:18 deal and I was told to leave the church. I wish someone cared about my problems. I think my feelings are a burden to others. Nobody really wants to hear what I think or feel right now. My problems aren’t really that big of a deal, other people have bigger problems. My problems are too big for the church to handle. This church is just full of gossipers, nothing can stay a secret!
The lie behind believing that no one cares is forgetting the One who truly cares. God cares. You don’t think The Lord Jesus Christ cares? Why in the world would Jesus decide to leave eternal riches, joy, honor, and peace to come to a grimy world to be hungry, lonely, hated, spit on, ridiculed, abused, neglected, forgotten, physically torn apart, and dishonored? You.
Jesus came to save you.
Let me say that again. Jesus came to save you.
The Bible talks about a voice calling out to you in Psalm 95:7. Brother… Sister… Friend… today is the day. Do not continue to harden your heart. If you do not trust in Jesus Christ as your Only Salvation, today is the day. If you don’t believe Jesus cares for you or that you’ll be a burden to Him, consider what David wrote in Psalm 22:
“For God has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.”
The Gospel response is that Jesus Christ put and keeps the church together, Jesus Christ cared so much for you that He died, and every church member is designed to become more like Jesus Christ.
So if Jesus did not spare even His own life to care for you and you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who are trying to become like this Jesus, that means there are brothers and sisters who care about you. They really do. They will be there for you. And if the first or second or third person doesn’t work out, keep trying (2 Thess 3:13, Gal 6:9). None of us have arrived, so if every member is gossiping and there is absolutely no one in your local church that can be trusted, trust in God’s providence that it may be time to talk with your pastor about moving to a different church. I thank God that my local church is not this way. My local church is FULL of Gospel-believing, faithful, and striving-for-holiness members. But remember, even if God’s people fail, Jesus Christ will never fail. He will always love you.
We are not really sure how to do it well.
To be honest, I just am bad at expressing my feelings. I don’t know how to tell others my problems. I know I should confess my sins to another brother or sister, but who and how? I tried to tell someone about my sin and they just kind of looked confused and disturbed. If I confess my sin to my brother, should he forgive me? That seems weird. All of this sounds weird.
The lie we believe here is that if we are not practiced at something or we don’t know how to do something, we should just not do it. This thought process seems logical until it doesn’t. If we had to start breathing mechanically and manually at age 16, we’d probably be really bad at it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. In fact, it would threaten our very lives if we don’t! Why do we teach our children to walk? If we don’t, they will not get very far (literally and figuratively). Similarly, as we must walk and breathe to sustain our physical lives even if difficult, we must share burdens and sins with our brothers and sisters to sustain our spiritual lives despite it being difficult.
Confessing sins and authentically sharing our sorrows can feel awkward, unnatural, and unhelpful. But it’s Biblical, and Biblical is always better.
The Gospel response is that Jesus Christ underwent a multitude of hard trials to seal our salvation as One Body in Christ. His path toward our salvation was anything but easy.
In fact, if you look in Isaiah 53, it is a description of Jesus as “The Suffering Servant.” Therefore, we should seek wisdom, be unafraid to obey His Words prescribed in the Holy Bible, and practice righteousness. If the people of Jesus Christ are considered one body (Romans 8:4-5), we must know each other. If we must know each other, we must confess to one another. When we confess to each other, we learn the infection of each body part and can quickly supply the right antidote to the right place.
Robert Frost, in his piece “The Road Not Taken,” ends with this historic and beautiful line:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”
I’m encouraging us to refuse the road that responds with “good” and be unabashedly, unashamedly walking the road of openness with others both in sin and sorrow with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m encouraging us to give preference to one another and believe the best in each other. I’m encouraging us to actively serve each another in a local body of believers through the ministries of asking good questions, intently listening, exhorting and disciplining as necessary, and practicing longsuffering, patience, and kindness. I’m encouraging us to give up the pleasure of privacy and pursue personal relationships of honesty. Why? To the glory of God alone.
In parting, we must remember the following.
The Gospel Response is…
Experiencing the glories and riches and honor and power and majesty of Jesus Christ in His forgiveness, love, affection, and long suffering makes the fear of man seem silly.
God is calling you bring the private things in your life to your brothers and sisters in Christ. He will equip them to love you correctly and fully.
Jesus Christ put and keeps the church together, Jesus Christ cared so much for you that He died, and every church member is designed to become more like Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ underwent a multitude of hard trials to seal our salvation as One Body in Christ. His path toward our salvation was anything but easy.