Shiny, Fake Christians
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
One of the challenges of struggling with anything, is the feeling of isolation. Often, we keep our failures and trials a secret because we’re ashamed of the struggle. We falsely believe that everyone else has it all together, and that there’s something strangely wrong with us.
One of the worst things we can do as Christians then, is to put on a false front that says we’ve got life all figured out and that we don’t fail or struggle in any way. Sadly, when someone has a life crisis and most desperately needs other Christians, church is often the last place he or she wants to go, because everyone there appears so shiny and perfect.
So, I’ve often appreciated the apostle Paul’s honesty in today’s passage where he admits the conflict with his own self-destructive nature. If you read only Romans six, you might get the impression that Paul claimed to be free from sinful struggles. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6). Thankfully, he didn’t stop there and went on to confess that in his flesh he still retained sinful desires. The evil I do not want is what I keep on doing (Romans 7:19).
As a spiritual leader and well-known disciple of Christ, it couldn’t have been easy for him to publicly acknowledge his flaws. I’d imagine it might have even been tempting for Paul to just gloss over his struggles or ignore them completely in his writing. For me though, it’s profoundly helpful to know that even someone as devout as the apostle Paul had his own issues.
We don’t need to stand up in front of church on Sunday morning and confess our sins to the world, but neither should we put on a facade of perfection. To effectively share the hopeful, transforming message of Christ with those who are struggling, we must humbly acknowledge our flaws and imperfections. Fake, shiny Christians, obsessed with their own status and appearance, are completely useless in truly reaching those who struggle. It’s only in admitting and working on our own failures that we’re able to help others with theirs.