Yes, those confused, shocked, unable-to-respond Christians are hiding something from you. When you share honestly about your struggles, their jaws may drop in surprise. They may raise their eyebrows in dismay. Or they may simply be silent.
But they probably won’t tell you about their own struggles. Even though their struggles are as real as yours, it’s unlikely they’ll share them. Why is that?
Because we as Christians don’t like to seem dirty, unholy, sinful,_______. Fill in the blank with your favorite word choice. As I talked about in Part 1, being authentic is hard. It’s easiest to hide because other Christians might judge us or reject us if we’re honest.
An Understandable Reason to Hide
I’m sometimes disgusted by the unattainably high goals that some Christians set for other Christians. Though they don’t say it directly, many act as if we will never struggle with sin—but if we do, we can make a quick change and completely turn our lives around.
What they don’t realize (or admit) is that dealing with sin isn’t quick and easy. It’s messy.
We are going to struggle with sin as long as we live on this earth. No motivational speaker, encouraging article, or inspiring sermon will change that. If you set a goal to stop sinning, you’re going to fail. It’s just part of the sin nature you were born with.
It’s unrealistic for us to expect perfection from anyone or anything in this life, but that doesn’t stop us from judging believers who commit major sins, shunning those who struggle with certain issues, and doubting that certain believers will ever get themselves together.
I’m Guilty of This, Too
To be honest, I judge people, too. I mentally drop my jaw and raise my eyebrows when I hear about the sins of fellow believers. Yet I conveniently forget my own sins and struggles. I want to believe my sins are less significant than the sins of other Christians. I want to think I am stronger, holier, better.
But the reason I judge other believers is because I am neglecting to judge myself.
I want to claim that my habit of lying is not as bad as having sex outside of marriage. I want to claim that my choice to harm myself is not as wrong as the choice to harm other people. I want to claim that disobeying my parents is less severe than disobeying the law. I want to claim that I’m not a bad person, but he is, she is, and they are.
The truth, however, is that we’re all bad people. We simply belong to a good God if we have trusted Him for salvation. And that’s why we can stop hiding and start being real.
Why We Can Stop Hiding
I know that it’s hard to be honest in a high-and-mighty Christian society. It feels like the Christians who set unrealistic goals for other Christians never talk about their sins and their hardships. It causes us to wonder if their struggles even exist.
Friend, just because people don’t talk about their issues doesn’t mean they don’t have issues.
Not only am I guilty of inwardly judging others for their sins, but I’m also guilty of hiding my sins from them. I don’t want anyone to know what I’ve done and what I’ve struggled with. Those are my battles to fight alone…right?
To be fair, it’s not always appropriate to talk about your sexual sin or your infertility struggles. There are inappropriate times and ways of mentioning your family conflicts, suicidal thoughts, and alcohol addiction. But just because something is uncomfortable to say doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say it.
We can stop hiding our struggles because everyone is struggling. Everyone.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3 ESV)
The Christian life isn’t meant to be lived alone or in hiding. We are designed to share our sins and our burdens with other believers—even if it’s scary, uncomfortable, or painful. Knowing that everyone is struggling (whether they admit it or not) will help us do that.
You don’t have to hide any longer, friend. Let the light in by letting others in.