It’s been a little longer than usual since my last post as my life continues to change and become more busy (in good ways). My recovery from porn addiction continues to be going very well and gets even better. I was recently asked to preach at a church in town. I will be doing a 4-part presentation on the gospel. I intend to share my addiction story and recovery process as well as address the tendency toward secrecy that exists within Christianity today (hypocrisy). I’ve also been asked to help put together an addiction recovery program in my church (which has about 400 members). We’ve had a couple meetings and intend to begin the program in mid-January. I’m super excited about it. And what better way to improve my recovery process than to help others with theirs! I’m going to school next semester, so I’ve been getting ready for that change as well. I’ll be making the long trip from where I live to Santa Barbara weekly or every other week (SB is 8 hours from here)! Plus, I still have two part-time jobs and I’ve been starting to study the Bible with a few people I’ve met recently in my discipleship efforts. Wow! Life is getting intense. But, I don’t find time to get in trouble either. Before I get into the topic I want to write about today, I wanted to quickly summarize the things I feel have helped in my recovery…
1) Letting the secret out (blogging, talking with friends and family and church and even strangers when appropriate)
2) Filling up my life with spiritual things–cutting out the things that build up self like worldly music, movies, etc. Keep the gospel in the forefront of the mind.
3) Getting involved in discipleship. Look for opportunities to share with others.
Fakebook: The New “Church”
So, today’s topic is on Fakebook (yes Facebook). The other night I went to visit a guy who wanted to study the Bible. We started talking about church. He asked me what church I went to. After telling him about it, I asked him what church he attended. He said, “I don’t really believe in churches. There are too many hypocrites”. I completely understand where he’s coming from. If you’ve read my post called “Removing the Mask” you know exactly how I feel on this subject. But, the presence of hypocrites in the church can cause us to react in different ways. For many, they get upset and refuse to attend any church (which is how my new friend has reacted). For others, they feel a call to be a part of the solution by attending the church and possibly making a difference in the culture of it. I feel like if I am honest and open toward others, they tend to be the same way with me. I truly believe that one single person can change the entire culture of any church given enough time and persistence. I’m actually seeing it begin to happen in my church right now. Just the other night, I shared my addiction story with a small group of leaders who were meeting to start the addiction recovery program in my church. After I shared, one of the leaders was almost shocked. She asked me if I was truly ready to do this. She and I both know that this is risky stuff. I’m laying myself on the altar. I’ve been a respected leader in my church and to open myself up like this and to be vulnerable is to risk my reputation and could cause some people to change their views of me. But, I told her that I am ready, I’ve counted the cost, and I’m here to do just that. I’m not afraid at all. I’m excited to be part of the solution.
So, back to the story… this comment made by my new friend about hypocrisy in the church has me thinking. Yes, I know that hypocrisy exists in the church, but have you ever seen Facebook? If hypocrisy exists anywhere, it seems like it exists exponentially on Facebook (which I will from this point forward refer to as “Fakebook”). Whenever I browse the comments or look at the pictures of my “friends” I feel like all I see is what they would have me to see. It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem genuine. It seems like they only prop themselves up in the light that they would have others see them in. Also, how many of your “friends” are actually your friends? A week or so ago I was given a verbal lashing from someone who completely misunderstood something I said. This person was an acquaintance who I found out that day had no intention of becoming true friends. I could go on and on about the superficiality found on Fakebook. What’s interesting is that it seems to have become the new “church”. It is a place for fellowship, for discussion, for updates and expression. The only way it seems to differ from church is that it lacks a common goal and it lacks a common God (unless you consider social stalking to be a new idol).
But, then as I started thinking deeper into it, I thought of something else. I’m not sure it’s right to place all the blame on Fakebook. It’s only a platform. What do you see when you sit on a bench and watch the world go by? The same! People are all acting. They are all dressing how they want to be known, acting how they want to be known. We all place ourselves into the box we want everyone to know us by. Isn’t that hypocrisy? How many of us are truly being ourselves? Do any of us even know who that would be? We’ve lived the lie so long we’ve even convinced ourselves of who we are. So, then, Fakebook only really becomes an extension of that phenomena, doesn’t it?
So, to my friend who won’t go to church because of all the hypocrites, I wonder if he also stays at home and refuses to go out into the world because of all the hypocrites out there? I wonder if he has closed his Fakebook account because of the lies portrayed on it? I wonder if he stays home, locked in his room, being himself but never letting anyone else see who that is?
Perhaps he goes out into the world with an agenda to show the world what a true person looks like–maybe he intentionally tries to be honest and transparent (that’s a great thing). If he thinks his honesty and transparency can somehow influence the world around him, why wouldn’t he also give it a shot in church? So, my point is, if we are so sensitive about hypocrisy in churches how come we tend to be so lenient toward it everywhere else? And what is our reaction to it in the world and on Fakebook? If finding hypocrisy in the church makes us so angry, why are we so placid about it in the world around us that we are exposed to? I have some ideas as to why it might be so much more disagreeable to find in churches, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts first? I’ll add some of them to my post regarding that difference which is forthcoming!