The men and women cursed, drank and smoked. Some had been into drugs and other stuff and some were burned out from the stressful climb to the top of their professions. Most were Christians. I was one of them and I loved being with them.
I had been hired to facilitate a series of discussions for people who just wanted to talk about life as it is, without editing any of their feelings and without the fear of being judged.
They wanted to be able to cry and scream and argue. They wanted to wrestle with truth; not sip tea and chat with it. They wanted to talk about the God of their experience and attempt to reconcile Him with the God of their professed faith.
They wanted space to authentically process and recover.
The person who hired me to facilitate this group was a former pastor who had given up on the church as a vehicle for allowing people that space. He had concluded the church was far too mulched by dogma and traditions to allow true love to bloom. Love that embraces messy spirituality and cares for real people.
I didn’t agree with his conclusion. In fact, as I was leading one of these sessions it became clear to me that I wanted to create a church environment that respected each person’s place, pace and process, just as the Lord respects mine. Just as He respected the seekers at the tavern.
We don’t live in an easy world. It does no good to pretend that the issues Christians face are any easier than the ones facing those who do not believe.
It doesn’t help the cause of Christ when believers act as though they are beyond human pain, confusion or sadness. The apostle Paul notes that to one degree or another all temptations are common to mankind (1 Corinthians 10:13), which includes Christians.
The grand difference between believers and non-believers is not found in a formula that prevents all suffering but in the treatment. The treatment that comes from a living Savior, Jesus Christ, who not only accepted the sick and the sinful, they were His focus: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”(Luke 5:31-32).
Our “secret” to success is an increasingly intimate relationship with a living Savior who never judges us and is always coaching us to greater heights of living. So let us imitate Him in our treatment of one another.