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One Easy Way To Put An End To Hate

Last Sunday morning, Milwaukee, Wisconsin experienced a repeat performance of the tragic Aurora shooting from three weeks ago. The gunman, Wade Page, shot six people and wounded four others in a Sikh temple before eventually taking his life.

Since then, news outlets have been reporting that Page had ties to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. He also reportedly played in two white power bands.

Seems like the hate quotient in our country has increased exponentially over the last year or two.

So how do we put an end to it?

First of all, I think we need to stop talking about it.

Is it just me, or does it seem that our culture is throwing the word “hate” around like an errant Tim Tebow pass? Seems like our society is fixated on hate. Consider the recent additions to the English lexicon:

  • Hate rock
  • Hate crime
  • Hate groups
  • Hate monger
  • Hate speech

You’ve heard of FaceBook, but you may be surprised to know that there’s a HateBook where people can list their many hates.

Back in the day, the word “hate” was reserved for incorrigibles like Adolf Hitler or more recently Fred Phelps. Wade Page or James Holmes (the Aurora shooter) would surely fit into that category. But today, the word dominates the rhetoric in national news.

Once You Start You Can’t Stop

A few months ago I stopped at a nearby hardware store to pick up some household repair items. I asked a clerk for advice on a certain purchase, and this is what he said,

Actually, I think you’d be better off going with the ¾ bolt, actually. Then, actually, you’ll need to buy this nut. Actually, actually, you’ll find that it holds things together much better. Actually.

During our 2 minute conversation, he employed the word “actually” 14 times (I counted!). When I returned home, I shared my experience with my wife.

“So,” she asked after I finished telling my story, “when do you plan on beginning your project?”

“Actually, I thought I’d start tomorrow morning because, actually, I was planning on answering some emails tonight. Actually.”

I gulped because I knew I had been infected.

The next couple of days, the dreaded word kept appearing in my vocabulary. At times I knew it was coming but I still couldn’t stop it. The guy at the hardware store had given me the virus.

Throwing the word “hate” around works the same way. The more we talk about it, the more it appears in our vocabulary. And the more it appears in our vocabulary, the more common it becomes. Nowadays, a disagreement or debate can be considered
“hate speech.” Ironically, accusing people of hate can be in itself an act of hate.

While Wade Page performed with his white power heavy metal group, the lyrics in his songs assuredly expressed the hate that he already felt. But they also energized his burning hatred inside.

I realize this isn’t the magic pill—but we need to change the way we talk.

Our words are performative. If I stand in front of a mirror every day telling myself, “Mike, I hate you,” I’ll begin to believe it.

But if we change the way we talk to each other, we just might turn back the tide on hate.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt. Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

 Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s doing his best to recover from his “Actually” virus.

One note: The Daily Bible Conversation blog is shuttering its doors at the end of August…at least for now. The blog has run its course, so Michael, Eugene, and Brendan will direct their energies in other areas. Beginning September 7, Michael will begin a new blog entitled “God Meets Culture” at michaeljklassen.com.


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What Wayne, Garth, and Alice Cooper tell us about God…and us

In the movie Wayne’s World, Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar produce a television show on a public access station. A Chicago network television station, however, decides to hire the two men to broadcast their program to a much larger audience. Suddenly, their lives are changed as they begin living the dream.

In one scene, the two misfits attend a rock music concert performed by Alice Cooper. Afterward, they’re ushered backstage where they meet their hero. After paying their respects, the rocker invites them to hang out with him.

How do they respond? Click on the above video and find out.

Imagine meeting your greatest hero. How would you respond? Would you be nervous? Would you drop to your knees like Wayne and Garth chanting, “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”?

In John’s apocalyptic vision in the Revelation,  God is seated on his throne, surrounded by the twenty-four elders and four living creatures who worship him night and day. Over and over, the four living creatures hover around the throne and repeat these words:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 4:8

At the same time, the 24 elders kneel before God saying,

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. Revelation 4:11

It’s reminiscent of Wayne and Garth when they met Alice Cooper, isn’t it?

Scholars differ on the identity of the 24 elders. Some speculate that they are angelic beings, others believe they represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 disciples, still others believe they represent the church. Prophetic visions in Scripture are often murky, which tells me that nailing the details aren’t important. What’s important to us in this passage is that heavenly beings surround the throne, worshiping God. And someday we will join the elders and 4 living creatures worshiping him.

Does this sound boring to you? Is God nothing more than a megalomaniac?

I don’t think we have an inkling of an idea of how great is our God. If we really saw him as he is, we would drop to our knees and join the elders and four living creatures. God is that BIG! He is that much GREATER than us.

It’s no mistake that before the conflict of the ages unfolds in Revelation, we begin with a vision of God seated on the throne. And what are the four living creatures and twenty-four elders saying? That God is great, he created all things for himself, and all life comes from him and exists for him. He is holy and his reign never comes to an end. Not for a moment has his reign decreased, faltered, or been diminished.

The message to us: God is still on the throne. In the midst of John’s exile in Patmos, God is still seated on the throne.

In the midst of the conflict of the ages, God is still on the throne.

In the midst of your conflicts, challenges, and moments of despair, God is still on the throne.

Sometimes we need a reminder.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. Portions of this post first appeared in the December 13, 2010 installment of The Neighborhood Cafe. 

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A Playhouse Called Fear

What would your life be like if you had no fear?

I asked myself that question a few years ago and discovered that a wound from my childhood had affected me most of my life. For years, I thought anger was my central issue, but as I began to peel back the layers, I discovered that at the core, it went much deeper.

When I was two or three years old, our family lived in a small town in rural Kansas. The house across the street from us had a beautiful playhouse in the backyard.

One day, I was playing with the neighbor kids in the backyard across the street. Because I was the youngest one in the pack, I was always a step or two slower than everyone else. Well, the other kids huddled in a circle for a moment and then one of them said, “Let’s go play in the playhouse!” Everyone else ran inside and I followed behind.

After entering the playhouse, all of the kids ran out the entryway and slammed the door shut. Then I heard someone lock the door on the outside.

I tried to open the door but it was fastened shut.

I didn’t know what to do.

Then I looked to my left and saw a Mickey Mouse phone attached to the wall. I picked up the phone and cried out to Mickey to save me. Unfortunately, Mickey didn’t pick up.

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with panic. What if I never get out of here? I thought. I felt so out of control. Then something happened inside me that I distinctly remember to this day: like a pilot light from a furnace, my anger was lit.

Obviously, I was eventually rescued, but the damage was already done.

From that point on, every time I felt like I was being controlled, that internal flame roared to life and manifested itself as anger. As a child, when kids made fun of my new haircut and I couldn’t make them stop, my anger burned out of control. For years, I felt like a volcano, the red-hot lava simmering below the surface, building pressure until it released itself on any unsuspecting person nearby. Usually, my wife and oldest daughter caught the overflow.

Finally, I came face-to-face with my anger issue. When confronted with my anger addiction I decided to bring it to God.

He led me to a story from Mark 4:35-41. One evening, Jesus invited his disciples to join him in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Midway across the lake, a furious storm struck the boat, nearly capsizing it. Jesus, however, was fast asleep in the stern.

Imagine going out in a boat, in the middle of the lake, in the middle of the night. No outboard motor—only sails and oars. No navigational equipment, not even a flashlight.

If one of those storms should hit, how would you feel?

The disciples shook Jesus awake. “Jesus. Jesus! Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to drown?”

Then Jesus stood up and calmly said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind immediately died down and it became completely calm.  Jesus looked at them and said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Astonished by what they had just seen, they asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Studying this passage, I realized that Jesus is in control. Even when the waves are crashing into me, even when I feel controlled by others, Jesus is still in control—and I have nothing to fear.

I wish I could say it happened in an instant, but over time, the raging storm inside me began to subside. I didn’t need to be afraid. Jesus is in control.

You may wrestle with an assortment of fears:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of being known, of people seeing the real you
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of being wrong
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of not being successful which is different than the fear of being unsuccessful
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of being average
  • Fear of unemployment
  • Fear of not being able to support your family
  • Fear of dying

Fear is such a powerful emotion that it can take godlike control over our lives, affecting our relationships, the way we see ourselves, the way we make decisions, the way we see God.

Experience poverty growing up and you could respond by becoming a workaholic so that you never have to go without again. Even if it means working a job you hate, a job that kills your heart. The fear of poverty.

Fear of being alone can drive you into the arms of a person who doesn’t love you, who may be abusive, but is willing to provide a minimal amount of companionship.

We can lift up our voices in praise to Jesus on Palm Sunday and by the next Friday, fear can drive us to crucify him on a cross.

We think that control brings peace, but it actually works in the opposite direction of peace. In Isaiah 26:3, we read, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (italics added).

Trust doesn’t mean taking control, it means giving up control.

You can believe in your head that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, ultimately in control, good, and loving. But in your heart, you just don’t trust him.

The best answer I can give is the cross: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 (ESV)

If God loves us enough to give us his son, then we can trust him.

And you don’t need to live in fear.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’d like to say that he no longer deals with anger and control issues…but then he’d be lying.


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What Would Jesus Say About The American Dream?

Evelyn Adams achieved the American dream: she won not one but two lotteries. In both 1985 and 1986 she won the New Jersey lottery to the tune of $US5.4 million. According to the Consumer Price Index, that’s equivalent to $US10.5 million today.

Today, Evelyn Adams comments that, “Winning the lottery isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.” Today the money is all gone and Adams lives in a trailer.

“I won the American dream but I lost it, too. It was a very hard fall. It’s called rock bottom,” says Adams. “Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I never learned one simple word in the English language—‘No.’ I wish I had the chance to do it all over again. I’d be much smarter about it now.”

Sure, Evelyn Adams gave her money away, but she’ll also admit that hedging her bets, she wasted most of her money on the slot machines in Atlantic City.

Jesus And The American Dream

Despite the fact that we make more money than 90% of the world, Americans are fascinated with becoming independently wealthy. Turn on your TV on a Saturday morning, and you’ll see dozens of programs promising to teach you how to become America’s next millionaire.

It’s the American Dream: to live in such a way that we don’t need anyone else. To do whatever we want and control our destinies.

But is that what we really want? Is that what we really need?

A man ran up to Jesus and, fell on his knees and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus rattled off a few commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Then, with eyes full of love, Jesus said to the earnest man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

The man was devastated because he was quite wealthy. Slowly he walked away from Jesus.

Jesus then turned to his disciples. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!…It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Astonished, the disciples looked at each other and said “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

The Jesus Dream

Over the centuries, pastors, priests, and theologians have debated the meaning of this passage in Mark 10:17-31 (which also appears in Matthew 19 and Luke 18).

Does this mean that we’re all supposed to live in poverty? Is Jesus calling us to sell everything and give it to the poor? It’s passages like these that motivated people like Tony Campolo to say “You can’t be a follower of Jesus and drive a BMW at the same time.”

If all of us sold everything and lived in poverty, how would anyone pay their bills? Is God opposed to the wealthy? Are we all supposed to be homeless? Sounds a little unreasonable.

Other people say, “In this passage, Jesus is addressing the man’s god. The man was a good person, but his riches were standing in the way of following Jesus. So God wants us to abandon whatever it is that prevents us from following him completely.”

I agree with that, but it seems to subjective, and it doesn’t seem to reach far enough.

Selling Everything Means Selling Everything

So what is Jesus calling this man to—and what is he calling us to?

Jesus told the man to “Sell everything” Everything. Selling out to Jesus goes beyond our possessions. It means letting go of all attachments and attaching ourselves solely to him.

It means pledging allegiance solely to him. That’s why I’m uncomfortable with the Pledge of Allegiance. I understand the intention of it, but I trip over the words. I can’t pledge allegiance to the flag when I’ve pledged allegiance to Jesus because we can pledge our allegiance to only one person, entity, or thing.

Selling out means giving him our darkest secret, our dream of a comfortable life, our rights, reputation, comfort, desire for approval. It means giving up all dignity, propriety, respect, coolness, habits, addictions. It means attaching our self-worth to what Jesus says about us–and not the opinion of our parents, friends, or spouse.

Selling out is kind of a misnomer because we really own nothing. Everything we have already belongs to God.

Selling Out Places Us In The Position For God To Use Us

Deep down, I know this is the place God wants to bring me. The full awareness of my poverty-stricken condition, that I have nothing. Naked I came into this world and naked I depart.

And when I sell out, I can hear him saying, “I have you right where I want you. Now I can use you.”

Shovel my neighbors’ driveway after a big snowstorm? Okay, I’ll shovel. I’m not above that.

Make time to listen to my irritating co-worker whose life is falling apart? Yeah, I’ll do that.

Risk being transparent about my allegiance to him. I can do that.

Years ago, people used a different word for selling out: consecration. It means devoting something solely to God.

When the great 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody was a young man, his mentor challenged him, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.”

D.L. Moody’s response: “By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Jesus Christ does not claim any of our possessions. One of the most subtle errors is that God wants our possessions. He does not; they are not of any use to Him. He does not want my property, He wants myself.”

What would your life look like if you sold out to Jesus?

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. For him, selling out means taking more risks to share his faith, and working less while trusting God more with his finances.


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Do You Believe?

What does it take for you to believe?

The dramatic comebacks of American Football player and avowed Christian Tim Tebow last Fall has inspired spiritual conversations across the country. Does God help one team win over another? Do godly athletes get a little help from above?

After one dramatic win last season, a friend of my wife—and an avowed agnostic—texted her a simple phrase: “I believe!” Following the game, I checked my FaceBook page and read hundreds (literally!) of messages saying the same thing: I believe!

Gotta See It To Believe It!

Conventional wisdom tells us that we must “see it to believe it.” The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The scientific method teaches us that careful observation allows us to winnow the truth from lies and delusion. After careful research we can articulate a specific hypothesis that over time proves or disproves our theory.

“Science,” my high school physics teacher once explained to our class, “is based on facts.”

One of Jesus’ followers was a “see it to believe it” kind of person.

After Jesus died and (reportedly) rose from the dead, numerous people witnessed the resurrected Christ…and believed. Thomas, however, kept missing out on those “Jesus sightings.”

The rest of the disciples kept telling Thomas, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But Thomas, a born skeptic, told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

After a week of hearing stories about Jesus being alive, he was sitting with the other disciples locked up in a house.

Then Jesus appeared.

He walked right through the locked door and stood in front of Thomas. “Put your finger here,” he said to the famous doubter as he stretched out his hands. “See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas replied.

Then Jesus offered an interesting observation: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 italics added).

Beyond Belief

Think about it: the deepest faith isn’t the result of seeing and then believing. The deepest faith is the result of believing when no evidence is present.

The writer of Hebrews affirms this. In chapter 11, the writer delves into an extended explanation of true faith. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”(verse 1 italics added). By the end of the chapter, he points out the kind of people whose faith all of us should emulate: people who died by stoning, who were sawed in two, who were destitute, persecuted and mistreated.

These people believed while they waited for God to intervene…and he didn’t.

I know people like that…

A friend who continues to hang on to his faith after two years of unemployment.

An acquaintance whose father died in a car accident. She doesn’t understand why God would let it happen. She hasn’t prayed since the tragedy, but she still holds on.

A friend whose son died of an drug overdose four years ago this month. The grief is still fresh, yet I know she hasn’t given up on God.

That, my friends, is true faith. Believing while not seeing.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s still trying to learn what it means to walk by faith.


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Is Christianity A Lie?

By Michael J. Klassen

“Everything you need to know is written on these pizza boxes.”

In the movie The Invention Of Lying, Mark Bellison (played by Ricky Gervais) lives in a world where everyone tells the truth.

In Bellison’s world, no heaven exists. When people die, they pass into an eternity of nothingness. But while trying to comfort his mother in her dying moments, Bellison assuages her fears by making up a story  about what will happen next.

He describes a “better place,” a world of perfect love and happiness, where she will be surrounded by her family and friends. Relieved, his mother dies in peace. But in that moment, he discovers that he doesn’t need to tell the truth.

Not so ironically, the “better place” sounds an awful lot like modern Christianity. And in the movie, the faith that Bellison describes is a lie.

The Movie Takes A Swing At Christianity

When the movie was released, Christians were incensed. Interestingly enough, in real life Ricky Gervais proclaims himself an avowed atheist. In 2008 he was named an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and two years later he wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal defending his lack of faith.

While explaining to his dying mother that a better place awaits her after she dies, her doctor and nurses are standing behind him, listening. Astonished that they had never heard about this better place, they begin telling their friends.

Bellison soon becomes a worldwide sensation. People gather outside his home begging to know more. Meanwhile, Bellison agonizes inside, fashioning a new faith that everyone will believe. Slowly he inscribes the tenets on the back of two pizza boxes.

A few hours later, he steps outside and announces, “Everything you need to know is written on these pizza boxes.”

Then, like Moses, he stands before an enthusiastic crowd to explain the ten beliefs on his list. You can watch the video clip by clicking here:

1. There is a man in the sky who controls everything.

2. When you die, you don’t disappear into an eternity of nothingness. Instead, you go to a really great place.

3. In that place, everyone will get a mansion.

4. When you die, all the people you love will be there.

5. When you die, there will be free ice cream for everyone, all day and all night, whatever flavors you can think of.

6. If you do bad things, you won’t get to go to this great place when you die. Bad things include rape, murder, or punching someone. You get three chances.

Numbers 7 and 8 don’t aren’t explained in the movie.

9. The man in the sky who controls everything decides if you go to the good place or the bad place. He also decides who lives and who dies.

10. Even if the man in the sky does bad things to you, he makes up for it with an eternity of good stuff after you die.

 Is The Premise A Lie?

Amidst the overwhelming criticism by people of faith—most notably Christians—the movie failed miserably in the box office, grossing only $18.4 million despite a clever manuscript and an all-star cast featuring Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Tina Fey.

So was it a lie? Is it?

In the scene where he announces the “Ten Commandments,”, the crowd insists that Bellison carefully explain Rule Number 6: “If you do bad things, you won’t get to go to this great place when you die.”

For two hours, he clarifies what can prevent people from going to the good place. Finally, he explains that “bad things” boil down to our intentions: hurting people on purpose, stealing on purpose, murdering people on purpose.

Was Bellison’s explanation a lie?

Yes! A thousand times “Yes!”

The Invention Of Lying offers a glimpse of how secular people view the Christian faith. Good people do good things. Bad people do bad things. If we do enough good things, we go to heaven—and beware that we don’t exceed the limit of committing three bad things.

The religion that the movie rejects is based on being a good person. We earn our way to heaven.

If that’s true, though, then Jesus came to earth in vain. The Bible rejects that particular religion as well. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8 tells us.

As the movie attests, differentiating good people from bad people isn’t easy. How do you determine what makes a good person good enough to go to heaven or bad enough to go to “the bad place”?

The Bible makes the difference abundantly clear: there isn’t one. In our heart of hearts, we’re all bad people deserving of the bad place. We cannot be good enough to earn a mansion in heaven. That’s why our heavenly father sent his only son Jesus to earth. All we can do is accept his offer of forgiveness for our sin. Then he gives us eternal life so we can go to “the good place.”

Christmas Isn’t About Being Good

This Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent on the Christian church calendar. The word “Advent” means “beginning.” While Christmas day is the culmination of Advent, the weeks beforehand, starting with this Sunday, help us reflect on the true meaning of our faith.

Our faith rests solely on the greatest gift of all–a gift we can neither earn nor deserve: Jesus Christ.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s working hard this Christmas season at trying to avoid being sucked into the consumerism vortex.


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What Would Your World Be Like If Everyone Told The Truth?

by Michael J. Klassen

In the movie The Invention Of Lying, Mark Bellison (played by Ricky Gervais) lives in a world where everyone tells the truth. Instead of pasting a smile on their face, everybody says what they mean—and what they’re thinking.

(just a warning: the movie includes vulgar references—including the movie trailer above)

In one scene, Mark enters a restaurant with his date Anna, played by Jennifer Garner. The waiter walks up to the table and says, “I’m very embarrassed I work here.” Then he looks at Anna and confesses, “You’re very pretty…that only makes this worse.”

Even television ads  tell the truth. In one scene, Bob, a spokesman for the Coca Cola company, explains to the television audience,

It’s basically just brown sugar water, we haven’t changed the ingredients much lately…we changed the can around a little bit though. See, the colors here are different there, and we added a polar bear so the kids like us.

He concludes by saying, “It’s very famous, everyone knows it. I’m Bob, I work for Coke, and I’m asking you to not stop buying coke. That’s all. It’s a bit sweet. Thank you.”

What Would Your World Look Like If Everyone Told The Truth?

Because everybody only tells the truth, they believe everything they’re told—despite their honesty and frankness.

Interestingly enough, because everyone is honest with each other, people don’t get upset with what they hear. They may be hurt by someone’s words, but they aren’t surprised.

What if everyone in our world was honest with each other? What if we said what we meant?

Initially, we’d probably be hurt, but over time, we’d learn to take people’s opinions in stride. We’d also discover that everyone is messed up, because we wouldn’t conceal our shortcomings and failures.

I’m part of a pretty amazing small group community. We meet twice a month for our formal gatherings, but we get together much more often than that. I like to say that “we live life together.” In fact, many of us are going to see a popular comedian tonight. We enjoy being together.

For the past year, a different person from the group has shared their story at our formal meetings. They pass around photos, tell stories from their past, and confess their shortcomings and failures.

A month ago, it was my turn to tell my story. And to be honest, in the hours leading up to the meeting, I was freaking out. What if I bore everyone? What if I’m a disappointment?

Nevertheless, I chose to jump into the murky waters of vulnerability.

Afterward, the group encouraged me and accepted me…despite knowing a little more about what I’m really like. I felt so overwhelmingly affirmed and loved.

We All Need Truth-Telling Relationships And Communities

We all need friends and communities of friends who really know us and accept us. Who love us despite our shortcomings and failures.

Referring to Christian community, Paul wrote, “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NIV, italics added).

After all, relationships are built on honesty and truth-telling. Plastic smiles and always-cheerful dispositions do nothing to deepen a friendship or marriage.

Notice Paul says that by speaking the truth in love (which doesn’t apply only to confrontation), we become like Christ. If you read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which focus specifically on Jesus’ life here on earth, we see a full range of emotions in Jesus. He lived an authentic life and spoke honestly to the people around him.

I know, I know, you’re probably telling yourself, If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. But if everyone was honest about themselves, we’d all realize that we’re all messed up. We couldn’t look down on someone because they could equally look down on us. Rather than try to fix each other, we’d delve into each others’ hearts to discern why we act the way we do.

Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?

It’s never too late to start. But it begins with you.

Have you ever participated in an authentic community? How did it change you? I’d love for you to share about it with all of us.

Next week we’ll continue our discussion on The Invention Of Lying…

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s still learning what it means to live authentically.  


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