Just kidding. There is no survey. And yet there is arguably a very real challenge of Christians having church personas. We have this tendency to act in a caricatured way, acting in formal church settings in a way that we think is acceptable in a church environment. When we gather for corporate worship on Sundays, we usually have on our Sunday best, not just our best outfit, but our best behavior.
Now, this isn’t necessarily all bad. If we set aside Sunday morning as a holy time, dedicated for the gathering of God’s people to hear His Word preached, to pray, to take communion, to sing songs of praise, and to have fellowship with one another, it’s good to have a reverent heart. And a reverent heart often leads to reverent action, including a reverent way of dressing.
Where the persona becomes dangerous is when we create the Dr. Jekyll to our Monday through Saturday Mr. Hyde. A husband and wife could argue all morning, bicker over something petty, curse at each other in the car, and then when they arrive at church, they put on their personas and smile their way through the next couple of hours. People in a church building have a tendency to hide their hurts and their sin. When we go around asking for prayer requests, we often prefer to petition about someone else’s scars rather than our own. We’re afraid of being looked at as less holy than the persona that we’ve tried so hard to create.
What happens, then, is that church gatherings can be a collection of brothers and sisters acting like mere acquaintances, not as family. We’re afraid of truly getting to know each other, warts and all. My siblings, this should not be so. We need each other.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
If we go on being fake with each other, there’s no way we can help each other walk. There’s no way that we can appeal to the Lord on each other’s behalf. We must be real, or we will suffer the consequences of a Christian life lived alone, like a coal in the fireplace separated from the rest. We will fall alone. We will stay sick. Here are some tips in being genuine in your fellowship with believers:
1. Don’t hide behind theology. It’s good to talk theology. It’s the study of God, and glorifying God is what we’re about. Sometimes, we can use theology as a smokescreen to avoid talking about deeply personal things. Remember, we’re commanded to pray for one another, and our prayers need to go beyond, “Help Steve understand Double Imputation.”
2. Don’t lie. When someone asks you how you are, don’t spout out a canned answer. Be honest about how you are, warts and all.
3. Don’t isolate. When we file into the sanctuary, we usually seek out where we’re used to sitting, and when we sit down, we’re careful not to be in anybody’s personal bubble. Have you ever experienced sitting down two feet away from a fellow believer, but not acknowledging their existence (until it’s that time in the service that we’re supposed to do so)? Don’t do that. Have a genuine interest in your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and any unbelievers who walk in among you.
4. Ask good questions. “How are you?” often makes a conversation go flat. Ask someone about their week. Ask how you can be praying for them. Ask them about something they told you about before. Ask them what they do from day to day. Invite them over to your house or out for a meal. Avoid phony conversations, because they have no place in the family of God.
5. Pray. We all struggle with pride, in ways from insecurity to boasting. Only the Lord can help us overcome. Only the Holy Spirit could guide us to removing our phony personas and having genuine fellowship with our brothers and sisters. May He help us to that end, by His grace, and for His glory.