Friday, December 22, 2006

The Good and the Bad

Because I wait entirely too long to post my blogs, I kind of have a lot to say. So, roll with me on this.

Being a pastor is a crazy thing. I love my job. I love Jesus. I love helping others connect with Jesus. I love preaching. I love leading worship. I love doing life with the people God has surrounded me with to do life with. However, in the past few months, I feel more hurt than ever in the midst of the most joy I've ever had. I know, it's strange. As with everything else, it's a Paradox.

I feel an overwhelming call to simple honesty. I'm supposed to speak truth in love according to Scripture. We've been talking a lot recently about helping each other define true reality. Here's the reality that I've come to. Many people are faking it. I'm wearied. Have you ever walked through a spider web at night and found yourself trying to recover without looking stupid? That's kind of what I feel like. Over the past few months, people that I've invested hours, days, even years in have turned out to be something they're not. Because of what I do, people tell me what they think I want to hear (and that's how great they're doing ... if you were wondering). They tell me how great I am, how much they love the church, how much they want to help. Then, with no explanation, they're gone and won't return your phone calls and e-mails. A former co-worker of mine (a minister) filed for divorce this week because it turns out they were having an affair. Another friend has been lying about what they've been smoking for the past year and a half. These are all people that I've been close to. These are people I consider friends. These are people I consider followers of Christ. The reality is you can't follow Christ and act like this. You can't. It's impossible. As we follow Christ, we are transformed into His image. We become more like Him. Blowing smoke, pretending it, faking it is not what following Christ is about. I feel like I should be able to see passed it, call the bluff, expose the man behind the curtain, but in the past I've not wanted to think wrongly of people. Even though all the signs were there, I didn't want to believe these things about people that I love. The trouble is now, more problems have been sown into their life because of their pretending. It hurts my hearts, hurts my feelings, and makes me not want to give anyone else the benefit of the doubt.

So, my plea for everyone who claims the name of Christ ... stop pretending. Stop faking it. Stop trying to make people like you by saying that you're following Christ. You can't live a double life and be His follower. You can't receive grace until you're honest about the places in your life that you need that grace the most. It covers the darkest depths of your soul, and you have to confess it. Stop lying to pastors about how great everything is when the reality is that you're not really committed. Stop faking it, and get real.

That was the bad first, in case you wondering. Now, for the good.

Last night Holly put on a birthday party for me. My real birthday is the day after Christmas (the big 31 this year), but most everyone is scattered for the holidays, and Holly wanted to get everyone together before that happened. It was an "everything Jason" which makes me totally uncomfortable because I don't like to draw that kind of attention to myself. I don't like being the center of attention, and I'm not very good at receiving. However, she put together my favorite foods, gave me an Astros cake, put on one of my favorite movies, did a funny Jason quiz, and invited my favorite people. It was really great. While I've felt more burned than ever in my life, I also feel more blessed than ever because of the true friends that God has given me. It was a joy to be in a place where I could love and be loved without the expectation of anything in return, without pretending. I have never had such a strong group of friends - friends who know everything about me and who love me anyway (and vice versa), friends who know what gifts I'll really enjoy, friends who were excited about doing the things that I like to do for a night. It was really great. I also have to say how great it is to have my wife as my best friend who knows what I need more than I do myself.

So, close, honest, loving in spite of our weaknesses friends are the Good. Pretending, faking, and lying is the Bad. Thank you, Jesus for both because the good is made better because of the bad.