I love the book of James. It's my favorite book of the Bible because it gives us so much practical instruction about how to live our lives.
But what I love most about the book of James is that it's so "in your face." It lets us know that, even as followers of Christ, we're not going to have an easy life and that there are certain things that are mandated of us.
One of my favorite passages is James 5:16, which says, "Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much" (MEV).
Confess your faults to one another. That's a tough one, isn't it? But why would something like that be so difficult if the love of Christ is in us?
Could it be we've built a wall of invulnerability around us, that we don't want to others to see we're not perfect? Could it be we don't want people to think we are weak and need help at times?
Fellow Christ follower, that's exactly where Satan wants you, living in vain conceit and believing you can solve all of your own problems. He wants you isolated and unconnected to keep you in a turbid state. "He who separates himself seeks his own desire; he seeks and quarrels against all wisdom" (Prov. 18:1).
After all, who needs advice from others? It's your life, right?
Pastor Ed Garvin at Calvary Assembly in Orlando put it best in a recent sermon when he said: "Distance and rigidity are greatest in the church. The enemy knows how powerful if the church and its members became honest, transparent and open with each other. ... God wants you to live in breakthrough, not in insecurity and bondage."
You see vulnerability in some great servants of God in the Bible. Moses suffered from a speech impediment (Ex. 4:10); Elijah feared Jezebel so much so that he fled to escape her (1 Kin. 19:3); and Peter had a huge problem with anger. Those shortcomings didn't prevent them from obeying God and doing His will.
So, instead of "so-called believers" confessing their faults to one another, it seems that all we want to do is bicker, backbite and nit-pick at each other. You can see it all over the Internet. In fact, my last two newsletters are a prime example.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about "touching God's anointed." A good subject, for sure, and it received more than 2,400 shares on our charismamag.com page. But many of the comments were contentious, mean-spirited and selfish instead of godly. Many seemed hell-bent on tearing me and others down.
Then there was last week's column, in which I asked if there is a spiritual gap in your life. That one received 115 shares. I wonder why. Could it be that no one wanted to be transparent, to be vulnerable or to talk show about personal weaknesses? It kind of shows where we're at as Christians and why the world has a certain perception about us, doesn't it?
I know very well that I need help every day to be a better person, to be a better Christian. I always try to be as transparent as I can. God's Word says I should. And I'm not talking about, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned." I grew up in the Catholic Church, by the way.
I'm not suggesting that Christ followers should get on message boards and reveal their entire lives to everyone out in the open. We certainly need to use discretion and not spread palaver.
But we all have different life experiences, and God can use those experiences to encourage others. Perhaps you've been through trials and tribulations where God revealed something in His Word or through a friend that benefited you. Wouldn't you want to share that with other believers?
It is crucial for those mature in their relationship with God to connect with callow Christians. If you feel as if you can't trust anyone at your own church with your problems (which, unfortunately is the case many times), there are many outside organizations that can help if you need to talk and need spiritual counseling.
Through my work here at Charisma Media, I've gained many connections and can point you in the right direction. Please feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, don't try to work it out yourself. Pray that God will send you someone who can help. He will always be faithful and expedient to answer that type of prayer.
If you've made mistakes, messed up and are struggling with something, keep in mind that everybody does those things. You're not alone, and the like-minded want to help you. Help yourself by being transparent.
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles (Ps. 34:17).
And as I always like to say, "there is that."
Shawn A. Akers is the online managing editor at Charisma Media. He is a published poet and published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. To sign up for his newsletter, "Step Out of the Boat," and other Charisma newsletters, click here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.
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