I love my church family. Every Christian ought to be an active member of a local church. When we gather together, we have a great opportunity to build one another up. We have a great opportunity to worship with other believers. And we can let down our guard for a bit, exposing our weaknesses and fears, trusting one another, because we know that we’re all in the same boat.
And yet I often still have my guard way up. Because in the back of my mind, I wonder, “Can I really trust them?”
Is this right of me? I don’t know. I was taught in seminary to be transparent. This means my life should be an open book. I should allow the church to see who I am and how I strive to joyfully allow Christ to direct my every thought and action.
And yet, I was also taught to be selective in revealing certain details. It’s not always wise, for example, to reveal the precise sins that we’ve struggled with, or that we’re currently struggling with. This might cause certain members in the church to distrust us.
So, out of fear that they might distrust me, am I to actively distrust them?
Jesus Himself was described once as not trusting His disciples. “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25)
Since Jesus “knew what was in man,” that man was sinful and irresolute, Jesus did not entrust Himself to them. And yet, Jesus was also an open book. He never hid His feelings or tried to portray Himself as other than He actually was. Even when Jesus knew that some of the information He shared about Himself would be used against Him, He still showed Himself to all people, that they know Him, and that some of them would find life in Him.
So when it says that Jesus “did not entrust himself to them,” it doesn’t mean that He was guarded around people, but rather that He didn’t gain His worth from them. He didn’t have His hope and joy in what others said about Him, or whether or not they even liked Him.
I wonder if I should have much the same attitude. I often have it completely backwards. I care far too much about what others think about me, and share far too little of my struggles, fears, and sins.
And even though I write all of these things as a pastor, I think most people in the church have these same struggles. We want to know and be known, but we’re scared.
The ironic thing is that the church is the one place where we don’t have to be guarded. We can truly be ourselves, even while we grow to be who God calls us to be. And while there are certainly social norms that dictate when it’s appropriate to share intimate details such as struggles, fears, and sins, we can truly trust the church, while at the same time having our hope not in what they think about us, but in Christ.