Monday, June 11, 2012

Backyards & Closets

My wife and I love hosting parties and cookouts at our house. This means that several times a month we have anywhere from 10-20 people in our home. We have people in our backyard playing games, people in our kitchen having snacks, and people in our living room hanging out and talking.

During these cookouts we don’t have people in our dining room for long conversations and 3-course meals. And we certainly don’t have people hanging out in our bedroom or our daughter’s nursery.

However, we do have certain people that we allow to not only come to the back of our house but also have access our bedroom when they come over. They get to see where our daughter sleeps. A few of them can even rummage through our closets and look for clothes to borrow if they want to.

We all have a desire for friendships that are this intimate, the friends that we can allow to see our “dirty laundry”; friends that we don't hold anything back from.

Social media is the most evident proof we have that we all have this desire, whether we realize we want it or not. However, the fact that we have social media can be damaging to us as we strive to live in biblical community.

If you were to look at my Facebook page you would see that I have around 1,000 “friends”. On the surface it would look like I have more than enough people who would be there when I need them the most. But if you look under the hood at what is really going on you would see that not only are these people not really my friends, but in fact, I don’t have an authentic relationship with more than a handful of them at all. They are the people that have access to my back yard, but not the friends that I should allow in my bedroom.

To our detriment, through a status update or tweet, we have people to whom we can air out our dirty laundry at all times. This is further proof that each and every one of us have a desire to share the “real me” with those around us.

A few weeks ago I saw a post that troubled me, and made me appreciate Build A Better Us [marriage ministry] even more. She said, “I sure wish my husband made an effort to make me feel special on Mother’s Day.”

This is not only sad, but dangerous as well. This is unfortunate on two fronts. First, this woman obviously has some deep problems in her marriage. But, second, she also doesn’t have a real community to share it with. Thus, she finds a false one through her Facebook wall.

The 1,000 friends I mentioned before aren’t all going to be there to encourage me with Scripture when I need them, nor are they going to be there to pray for me.

This is one of the things I love about discipleship. As long as I have someone willing to lead me with biblical insight, I know I have a safe place to turn. He isn’t going to simply “like” my status or “@ reply” with a generic “I hope things get better”. I know that he is there to listen and to give me godly wisdom during the times when I need it the most.

Hopefully, I also play that role for the men I disciple. If I see them unloading all of their problems on Twitter then I know that I’m failing them. Our life-on-life is lacking something because I’m not a safe place for them to talk through their issues and I haven’t instilled in them the importance of taking their problems to Jesus.

As I am being discipled and discipling men I should strive for a relationship where they are allowed in my “bedroom”. They should have access to my closet. This will not only benefit both of us, but will be a source of sanctification. If there are things that I’m hiding from these men then I want them to have the right to ask me about it, to hold me accountable.

The Christian life isn’t one to be lived alone; we are made to be in relationship. While I can’t give everyone access to the back of my house, I do want to bestow on certain men the right to see all of me, even the dirty closet. If they don’t see these areas, then I can isolate and hide my struggles and sin. Or I will eventually allow the wrong people to see my private rooms who can take advantage of my vulnerability. This has the potential to be detrimental to my life and ministry.

Who do you allow in your bedroom? Who has access to your closet? Do you keep your struggles to yourself? Or do you have the people who can point you to Jesus when you need it the most?