It sounds a bit archaic doesn't it. "Wicked this" and "wicked that," and "they shall surely die in their iniquity." But I made a connection today (albeit a loose one) to one of the biggest dangers that is ravishing the church today. Here it is:"__________(crickets)________(bullfrogs)_____________(annoying mosquito)________(platypus splashing through creek)." Silence, yes silence, its killing me, and its killing the church.
I was talking with a friend last week who was stepping into unknown territory as he discussed his depression, fears, anxiety and sin. Unknown, because even though he's in full-time ministry, he had never discussed his depression and anxiety with anyone!
"What is wrong with us?" I was thinking. "How can we get so far down the road in our struggles before we begin to share them with others?" That same day I found out about another friend, who also works with us in ministry, who is now withdrawing from the ministry because of anxiety brought on by a bad case of poison ivy! No one to talk to, it can kill you.
I don't get this. I mean I do and I don't. I know that when I'm depressed I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to hide and hole up until I get better or die. Shame and raw hurt scare me away from others. But I also know that if I don't say something or show some sign of my pain that sin in the form of self-destruction, comparison, resentment, hate, lust, withdrawal and even suicidal thoughts will beckon. That's my emotional train-wreck pile-up.
I can't imagine not sharing my pain with someone. If I have to force myself to start fake crying like a little kid, I'll do it. Depression hurts too much. If I have to fall down on the floor and kick my legs around and break furniture, I'll do it. Thankfully I haven't had to go that far. Plus my wife Melissa would put me on the naughty mat way before I was allowed to throw that sort of fit.
But I don't think it's just depression and anxiety that people are silent about. It's all kinds of things. Could it be that we have this whole Christ-following thing backwards? Is it true that to show a broken life is to show spiritual immaturity.
NO! NO! NO!!! What a bill of goods we've been sold! What a whopper of a lie! And the sad thing is that most of us have bought it. Of course we'd never admit it. But how many times do we sit down at church and really "confess our sins one to another" (It says this somewhere in the bible right! I'm too lazy to look it up however).
If I simply shared with people what goes through my mind while I'm in church, people would probably gather around me and lay hands on me (if they dared) to free me of my obvious case of demon possession. I can see it now. They'd be so stunned! "Wow, if this is what he thinks in church, imagine the other crap he's not sharing. Yikes! He's definitely possessed by the devil. He is the devil! Let's just all run away and pray while we run!"
Obviously there's a time and place to be open and a time and a place to set boundaries. But we need to find friends and people to confess with. It's not enough just to talk to God in our heads. For if we're to take Paul seriously, our brothers and sisters are the hands, feet and everything else of Christ. Can you imagine a physical body where no messages got from the brain to the appendages. Just picture Jim Carrey on speed.
How can we hide stuff and survive as a church? Imagine if we really began to become "fierce repenters," as a friend of mine termed. Imagine the pain we'd share, the forgiveness we'd find and imagine the cross getting bigger and bigger and bigger, until all we could do is stare slackjawed at the great cost of our forgiveness.
I'm not saying we could or should be totally open with any and everyone. That could produce a false sense of authenticity in which we wallow around in our sin. But let's just say that if we were "watchmen" for eachother (like the passage I quoted above encourages) can you imagine the reality and repentance that would sweep the dead religion right out of church?
My friend shared that I was the first or second person he'd talked to about his depression and lust. He said that he was so frustrated, because he was trying to be a person of character. Come on! Why do we think that stuffing all this crap deep down into the recesses of our souls will enable us to be more like Christ?
I guess a lot of us have given up on being like Christ and would rather just look like him. Of course if we did that with any authenticity, we'd have really dark skin, would probably smell really bad and would walk around in dirty table-cloths.
The passage above talks about delivering souls by sharing with them that their sin will kill them. Our silence may indeed be killing souls, but, hear this, our silence may mean that their blood God "will require at your hand." We've got to break the killer silence. Maybe then Christ will work in us together. Together, not alone. Sounds good doesn't it?