Open Church

The church of Jesus Christ hosts the only repository of pure truth that exists in our world. God’s Word is ours, the Spirit of Christ resides in us, and the knowledge of God illumines our hearts and minds. We know the truth, and the truth has set us free.

Why then is the church the last place that wants to talk about the hard issues the world is dealing with? Why do we pretend like no one in our midst struggles with homosexuality? Why do we act like transgenderism is a conversation for some other group? Why do we barely begin to address matters of human sexuality, technological temptations, political idolatries, greed and materialism, and the deep, dark deficiencies of the depressed lives we lead?

Why is the church so closed when God is so open?

So many believers—professing or real—keep their hearts in hiding because there’s no culture of grace and truth that invites us to bring our real hearts, lives, and issues into the presence of God and the light of his Word. We read the Psalms and we love the Psalms, but our conversations and prayers look little like them. We throw around buzzwords like “community” and “doing life” and “being real,” but the numbing reality is that our in-person “fellowship” is embarrassingly surfacy for a people called to enjoy the very depths of God.

Over and over I have conversations with people about deep issues, and they wish they could be more open about their deep issues. Over and over my shepherd’s heart breaks to think that so many sheep are in God’s fold but feel like they’re alone on a cold, rocky path high above the treeline. Over and over I see believers silently struggling to navigate the complicated issues of our day because we’ve believed the lie that God’s given us an insufficient map. Over and over, strugglers are turning to forced diagnoses and unproven medication and social media scrolling and empty careerism because we exist in communities of faith where we simply ignore each other’s deepest need—the soul fellowship that enriches life and makes the church the church.

This must change.

The church is called “brothers” and “sisters,” with God as our Father and Christ our first brother, because we’re family. But if a family lacks real relationships, it’s a dysfunctional family.

The church is called the “pillar and support of the truth,” but we’ve cut our pillars low, afraid that someone somewhere won’t like what God’s given us to say.

The church is called God’s “witness” in the world, but we seem mainly good at fleeing or fighting instead of lovingly engaging those who most need our witness.

The church is called God’s bearers of light, but if this is true, why do we so often hide in our own closets of fear, shame, isolation, and the barest forms of selfishness?

Why is the church so dark when God brings such light?

The gospel of Jesus clothes every Christian in the very righteousness of God. In him, we are loved, chosen, called, justified, sanctified, and one day, glorified. In him, we have God’s full acceptance, and we anticipate our full inheritance of a whole new world. Our minds and paths are shimmering with light, because God’s shown us who we are, where we came from, what went wrong, how he’s making it right, and how we live out our newfound hope ’til he comes again to restore all things.

The church Jesus died to redeem has an incredible calling—to be the living embassy of God’s kingdom in this present age. So as long as this present age hangs around, I hope and pray and long for God to awaken the American church to the fullness of our calling—to be a lamp on a stand, a city on a hill, a family streaming with light—until every friend and neighbor we know can see what it’s like when God is king.