First let me say that I’m not fussing – I’m amused. Back in college I had a roommate that smoked like a freight train. Never in the room but everything he owned smelled like he had just chain smoked a pack of generic cigarettes. Because he probably had. Hey that’s his choice but I specifically requested a non-smoking room. Both of my parents smoked when I was a kid and I had pretty bad allergies, regular asthma attacks, recurring bronchitis, sinus infections, etc. They all cleared up when I moved out so I obviously had a sensitivity to smoke, hence my request. He was a nice guy but at the end of the semester I requested a different room. When he was notified he came to me to talk about it. I gave him my reasons and left it at that. His answer was that he didn’t want his parents to know that he smoked. So when they were filling out the admissions information he lied. Here’s my point. Dude you are a grown man, you need to act like one.
Fast forward a couple of decades. Has it really been that long?! As a pastor in a college town one of life’s little joys is when a college student brings their parents to church. Or should I say when parents take their college student to church. It’s the same scenario every time. The parents come up and introduce themselves and Johnny’s or Jane’s parents with their son or daughter in tow. I can always see it on their face. ‘PLEASE PASTOR DON’T SELL ME OUT! I’M BEGGING YOU.’ I usually pause just long enough to make it a bit awkward and then say something like, ‘It’s great to have you with us today!’ You can see the relief on the kid’s face as they finally take a breath. Although I’ve never seen their son or daughter in my life I know the deal. They’ve told mom and dad that they’ve been attending church since they moved off to college. But they haven’t. And they’re too afraid to tell the truth.
It’s been the same since the beginning.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” – Genesis 3:8-10 NIV
People are afraid of being exposed so they hide. Adam and Eve hid in the bushes. They tried their best to cover up their embarrassment with leaves. And we do the same thing with our lies. Let’s be honest. No really. Let’s be honest. Let’s own our decisions. If we’re not proud of our choices let’s repent and make different ones. Let’s be real about our struggles so we can get the help we need to overcome (James 5:16). Because these little games we play aren’t fooling anyone (except maybe parents of college students although I doubt it). Let’s embrace each other, as real people with real problem and tackle them together. The plastic church isn’t ever going to reach the real world.