Some aren’t comfortable with too much openness. That’s one perspective but others are not comfortable with some of what the church (universal) has become. There is something happening under the radar. I don’t know for sure why or how or what but it’s happening nonetheless. It could be seen as a grassroots movement but it’s not really a movement.
After reading this article I encourage you to use the comment system below to share how being open about life has helped you or how you’ve seen other’s helped by it.
Real is the new black
It’s about Honesty and real-life transparency. This colloquialism, “…is the new black” fits perfectly. In regards to clothing and style, black is king. It always looks good; it is completely versatile, not to mention slimming. In reflective light theory it’s seen as all the colors in one – it never goes out of style. Black works with everything, all the time, all year long.
People want real. People want raw. They want to identify with something or someone. We want to feel human and to feel ok with our humanness.
I’ve noticed a spectrum of fake-ness and openness – both extremes are with us today. I share this observation with fear of coming across too broad or absolute. It seems the Millennials crave an unapologetic raw existence while the Boomers prefer a little more safety and guarded openness.
Changes are coming
Every 500 years there’s an innovation so powerful that it changes everything. Once this new thing takes off, we spend the next 500 years to settle in to the disruption it causes. We are beginning to wade into a new innovation right now – in our lifetime – but our toes are just now getting wet.
The printing press is an example of a life-changing innovation. Johannes Gutenberg created the first press around 1440. This innovation touched everything from politics to religion to institutions to academics. Having access to the printed page changed everyone and everything. For the first time the holy scriptures could be accessed by normal people. Imagine Gutenberg seeing the current capacity of our electronic devices, instantly downloading and displaying hundreds of books all in our back pocket.
What is our modern day printing press innovation? The Internet. We are almost fifteen years into this new world and we’ve only just scratched the surface of it’s social, political and scholarly upheaval.
With the Internet has come a subsection called, “social media.” It’s hardly a subsection, it practically is the Internet. We can follow, spy and learn from almost anyone. It’s amazing. In 1992, worldwide data transfer online added up to 100 gigabytes per day. In 2013, the rate of transfer went up to roughly 28,000 gigabytes per second!
I used to keep a contact list in my phone that included people I would rarely if ever need to contact. A couple years ago I cleaned out this list because I realized everyone I may need to reach out to is on Facebook.
A look at being real
Since I’m a type of Theologian I gravitate toward the Bible for perspective. These stories recorded, let’s be honest, they are real. You don’t get any more real than what you read in scripture.
The Bible is raw; there’s not much polish and primer. I don’t see the characters putting up facades (although you do find authors telling stories in a way that make themselves look good.) These were real people, with real stories, sharing the sludge of their human walk. They slept around, they swore, they did drugs (well maybe not, but it sure seems like Ezekiel may have tasted some special mushrooms), they used people and lied, they cheated and stole, they murdered and gossiped. They failed.
They stripped down, got drunk and today many would have been charged with sexual misconduct.
These stories looked nothing like the pale, bleached statuses & posts we offer daily. It looks nothing like my edged, trimmed and artificially fertilized, overly green grass adorning my home.
Follow me as I follow Christ
This is going to be an interesting pathway – you can take it or leave it. I don’t know everything; I do know some things, and I like to think I’m open and learning and growing.
Someone once said, “My calling in life isn’t to play God but rather to imitate Jesus.
I love this statement. It’s so clear and simple and profound. Think of what that means. We aren’t here to be God as a judge, we are here to be little Jesus’s. We are supposed to be extensions of Jesus on this earth. A side note: Jesus said that He could judge but reiterated on multiple occasions that He didn’t come to judge nor would He.
“My calling isn’t to play God but imitate Jesus.” My mind instantly veered away from that statement and I remembered Paul saying follow me as I follow Christ. Remember that one? We use it a lot. I’ve heard it used in a ways to show that we aren’t perfect, we’re trying, we’re growing and doing our best. We aren’t perfect, but you can follow me as I follow Christ. This statement is oozing with humility.
The next turn in my head led me to think about Paul as a real human who lived and was as human as anyone. Something I’ve never understood is how we practically deify Paul. This may make you uncomfortable – that’s my specialty.
We were never called to follow Paul, we are to follow Christ. I love Paul’s humility that showed at times – not so much other times – but when he said let’s follow Christ together, that was humility. In this phrase, he recognized his own humanity. He didn’t say, “follow me” straight up. One could say he said, “follow me only when it appears that I’m following Christ.”
Paul wasn’t perfect. Can you handle that? He was figuring out what this new life meant. He was working hard to help people realize the shift that Jesus began. It wasn’t meant to be static. It was progressive and full of life and movement and traction and change. Paul realized the complexity in transitioning from one understanding of God that had been passed down for thousands of years to a new understanding modeled by Jesus. It was an exciting time!
What would Paul do?
No one ever made wearables that said, “What Would Paul Do?” And this is for good reason. Paul was a man that made decisions based on what he felt the Spirit was saying at that time. Paul was a modern day prophet and apostle. In the Old Testament the people were to judge what the prophet said. Paul was working in a new era, a time full of possibility.
It makes me smile when I read the innocence of Paul as he realized one of his pastor friends was having anxiety over people rejecting him. Timothy dealt with rejection and was tormented with self-esteem issues. Paul tells him not to be afraid and to drink some wine to help with his stomach problems caused by fear.
If you know about the effects of alcohol you know it does help with anxiety but the rebound brings more anxiety. This effect is partially responsible for alcoholism. We need that downer to calm our minds but as it wears off, especially the next day, we can be left more jittery than before.
Therapists will tell you if you need to drink, then you probably shouldn’t. They say there’s nothing wrong with some alcohol but when it becomes a needed chemical to feel normal, you’ve crossed the line.
So follow Jesus or Paul? We’re indebted to Paul for the immense knowledge and explanation he brought us. He helped to build the foundation of the church. But he’s not perfect, he’s not infallible and he’s not Jesus. No one gets to make that claim.
Don’t be afraid of the Real
Honesty and raw openness will take us far but will also cause problems. Don’t think it’s an easy journey. People have had a hard time with some of my honesty. They worry I may offend the masses. While that’s not my intention, I do feel a pull to identify with Jesus. He demonstrated and was inclined to leave the 99 to help the one that had gotten away.
There’s strength in numbers but once those numbers stagnate, and get comfortable, and quit noticing the hurt, lost and possibly ostracized one, it’s no good – it’s ugly. But we are waking up. We don’t get to play God, we get to imitate Jesus! And actually Jesus told us He was no different than God because He did only what He saw the God the Father do. Digression enters here – this is another article for another day.
Remember failure is part of success. Paul failed. Nothing can live without something else dying first. We all have struggled and have things deep down we wish we didn’t deal with. But we aren’t helping anyone with our shiny, polished facades. Anonymity can bring openness – just look at Tumblr – but it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way.
We still shower and put on makeup, this is good. Just don’t put on so much that we can’t see the real you. The real you is beautiful. The real you is vivacious and alive. The real you has spots and blemishes and marks. The real you is after all, the real you!
Joy Weinzierl was Real
A couple months ago my mother told us kids something about her past that we never knew. In fact only a handful of people ever knew. I can’t tell you how helpful it was for us to hear. It was empowering for us to see her humanity. But I can also tell you how hard it was for her to share – its uncomfortable to show others our blemishes.
A few weeks later she shared this for the first time publicly to a large group of women. While one could anticipate some backlash or a stinky outcome the healing that came for her and countless women listeners was astounding. When we are real we more like God. When we are real, we are free – and God created us to be free. When we are real we create a mess. Is a mess worth it if it sets people on a journey to freedom?
We can’t say what Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ” unless we are able to see a good dose of rawness in our lives. Don’t allow your pride to put other people in a situation of feeling like they could never measure up. Its defeating and gross.
Real is the new black! The shift is happening. Don’t get left on the side of irrelevance and disconnect.
Peace and wholeness to you on your journey.