Okay, that’s a little harsh, I know. I don’t actually hate them, but that’s mostly because they don’t exist. By my count, there have been only three to ever walk the face of the earth, and the first two caved under the pressure. What I actually hate is people pretending to be perfect, and they are legion.
Perfect people have it all together. They spend three hours a day in personal devotions, chair every church committee, have immaculate houses and trim physiques. They walk with the Lord every moment of every day, and all their kids play musical instruments…superbly well!
Why do I hate them? Same reason most of us do, I think. They are walking condemnations of who we are and what we do. When we spend time with them, we come away feeling inferior and discouraged. We want to crawl under a rock or wallow in self-pity. “Why can’t I be like them? Why is my family so messed up? There’s no hope for me if that’s the standard!”
But aside from my personal issues, I hate the impact they have on the Body of Christ. Their “perfectness” creates a wall – both for the non-believer and the believer. Perfect people are unapproachable. They don’t have problems like I have. They don’t struggle like I struggle. How could I ever open up to them about my sin or my pain? They wouldn’t understand, and they would probably judge me for it.
I attended a Christian men’s conference a few years ago, and the speaker asked us to talk at our tables about our struggles as men. I knew how hard it is to get men to open up to other men, so I thought I would prime the pump.
“I struggle with sexual purity. I was exposed to some pornography when I was about seven years old, and over the years, I developed an addiction. When I became a Christian I realized that I had to deal with this sin in my life. I’m winning some battles, but it still has a strong pull on my heart.”
Silence. Nothing for about thirty excruciating seconds, and then the other seven guys at the table all said basically the same thing: “Well, I haven’t struggled with that, but I feel for you. No, my problem is…” and they began to rattle off some pretty mundane transgressions. All very safe stuff. I felt like a leper.
But as they shared, I realized something I had missed before. They were all from the same church – the one where the event was held. I was the only one from out of town. I suspected that many of them actually did struggle with sexual purity on some level (my experience is that it’s fairly universal for men – if not with pornography, then with eye control and impure thoughts), but they felt it was unsafe to share with each other. My suspicions were confirmed when one of the men approached me privately after the conference and confessed a deep-rooted battle with porn.
Why was it unsafe for those men to share with each other? Because they feared being judged. They feared what would change in their relationships. They feared that their secret might get out. Only faux weaknesses were safe enough to share.
This is such a tragedy! None of those men were perfect. All of them had issues that needed to be shared at that table. But no one wanted to expose his heart to the other men. Instead, they played perfect with each other, and by doing so, they stepped into Satan’s net of isolation. One of his main strategies against us is divide and conquer. He knows that we are stronger together, and he will do whatever it takes to keep us from unity.
We’ve got to be more transparent with each other and with the world around us. Playing perfect only sets us up for a fall when the Enemy exposes our sin. Pretending that we don’t struggle doesn’t make Chrisianity more attractive; it makes it unreal and hypocritical and “holier than thou.”
What the hurting people around us need to see is that we are hurting, too, but that we have Someone to whom we can take those hurts. We struggle, but we have hope. We sin, but we have forgiveness. We fall, but we get up. Then, they will know that it’s safe to confide in us, that we can relate and that we won’t judge. And that magnet is much more powerful than anything the Enemy has in his arsenal.