Ripping Off The Foliage Of Our Fellowship

We’ve been naked since the garden and we’ve been covering up our shame with the dead foliage of duplicity ever since. As a result, I believe everyone is a bit scared of being “found out.” That we’ll be exposed as frauds if people really knew what we thought about God, life and them.

Much of it is basic social survival skills. Ingrained in us as a toddler when selfish toy clinching and angry floor tirades were met with scolds and swift parental justice.

If people really knew us they certainly wouldn’t like us, we think. And so the charade goes. Our fellowship with other souls is based on forced niceties and fake smiles.

“How are you doing?” a bleached grin asks.

“Great, Great” says another struggling stumbling pilgrim.

If broken honesty isn’t the standard then fractured doublemindedness will be. It’s a catchword that’s a bit played out so I’m reserved in using it, but “authenticity” comes to mind.

Not the self-conscious introspective hipster kind of “authenticity” that plays itself out as an art and fashion snob. The kind that bares soul warts and all before a critical world irrespective of what the cultural cool kids say or think.

A lack of courage in us, and lack of safety in our environments, keeps other people at a safe arms distance from our heart issues.

This is where church should come in. This where a community of fellow strugglers should work to foster a safe place where stumblers can unload all the latent weakness and nastiness they keep bottled up inside. But religion and performance keeps these vices bottled, and the toxic effects of these airtight soul traps are seldom seen by brothers and sisters.

Until it seeps out in the open by scandal. By then it’s too late. No one saw the divorce, or drug addiction, or child abuse, or tax cheating, or extramarital affair coming. It was hidden for years under the painted up facade of spirituality and social skills.

The modern church, and religion in general, is most susceptible to these unexpected explosions of toxicity.

That’s why grace has to reign in the context of an assembly. Planned events and potlucks where grace is not the center may be a cute social gathering, but it will never be true fellowship. Fellowship is the result of relational intimacy, and intimacy is a result of shared trust. Trust will never happen where grace is not  given to bruised and broken hearts.

We can’t trust people who are violent with our deepest hidden hurts.

Following Christ is not just about receiving grace from Him.

It’s also about learning to give and receive grace from others, in real-time, in real vulnerability.

Every moment of every day is the perfect time to give or receive the grace He’s given us. This is the basic way we are His body in this world. 

God help us (me) do it.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

5 thoughts on “Ripping Off The Foliage Of Our Fellowship”

  1. As you know Bryan…I am personally struggling with Grace and Forgiveness. The extension of Grace has always come easy for me in life until now. I can tell you for a fact…God will extend us, in terms of our faith, as far as we can take it before he rescues us sometimes. I am not even close to where I need or desire to be regarding Grace and Forgiveness, but I plan to finish this journey WITH God and not on my own. That is the difference. Pride is a killer…

    1. Love you brother, I appreciate your honesty and testimony in this difficult time. You’re in the crucible, I definitely couldn’t venture to say how I’d respond if roles were reversed.

  2. This is a great post. Church communities should be the safest place in the world…so why do we feel like we have to put on a performance? And why do we think so highly of ourselves that we don’t extend the same grace to people that we so desperately needed before we got saved (and still do)? If we walk in grace and act like the bride of Christ, then we would have no need for the “foliage” to cover up our inside messes in our fellowship. I was reading a biography last night and came across the quote by C.T. Studd–“Some wish to live within the sound of a church bell or chapel. I want to run a rescue center within a yard of hell.” We sure try to make church a country club with perfect outsides when Jesus intended it to be a hospital for the sick and rescue center for the lost….and a place for us to get strong in God and be released to be rescue-workers and disciple-makers in a broken world. Thanks for posting! Blessings!

  3. Our Pastoral Church Committee, in one of our maaaaany meetings over the past 6 months, talked about this quite often and our place in this messiness of authenticity & outsiders & hurt people and what kind of pastor we needed to help shepherd us in this…..and wondering if our church folk were “ready” for it….but knowing in our hearts that God has been PREPARING us for this….”ready” or not.

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