Note: This is the second part in a three-part series about talking about the hard stuff. Find the first part, “10 Reasons Why We Don’t Talk About the Hard Stuff in Church,” by clicking on the title. The third part will be the 10 most important “hard stuff” that needs to be discussed in church. Expect that soon.
One of the more interesting parts of being in a dating relationship as a young evangelical Christian is determining when to have the DTR talk. DTR stands for “Define the Relationship.” Someone brings it up and then you have to examine how you feel and where you are in the relationship. It happens in every dating relationship, but it’s a big deal in Christianity.
There’s a lot of different ideas as to when to have it, how much to say, where to have it. It’s become a pretty serious thing that there’s a lot of conversation about. It can be a really hard conversation to have because it requires us to be open and talk about feelings, thoughts, personal desires, and often it’s tough to have those conversations. But it’s entirely necessary.
These tough conversations are entirely necessary to have in the church, whether it’s about a little-mentioned social issue or the sin in an individual’s life. And here’s 10 reasons why.
1) Scripture commands it and displays it.
The first part of James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” The command is clear. In the imperative, Paul says confess sins. Confessing sins is probably the hardest part of being a Christian because it goes against our very nature, to look good before others. But if Scripture commands it, it’s a good thing that we must do. Scripture also is excellent at talking about the hard things. Jesus gives us the perfect model, and the Bible itself discusses serious things right out. We would do well to follow its example, as it is God speaking to us directly.
2) If we don’t talk about the hard things, we may not know to pray for them.
The second part of James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Following the command to confess sins and pray for those people who deal with those sins is the truth that prayer has great power. We in the church have an opportunity to accomplish great things through praying for others and for different situations in the world. But if we don’t talk about them, we won’t know what’s happening and therefore we won’t know what to pray for.
3) The world is already telling us (wrongly, in most cases) how to think about things, and they’re having conversations about it.
Society already has hundreds of narratives on many subjects the church won’t touch, not even with a 10-foot pole. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of accepting what the world feeds you if you’re not discussing things with brothers and sisters in Christ who will remind you of the truths of Scripture.
4) We don’t have to pretend.
If we’re real and honest with what we think about the hard topics or the sin in our lives, we don’t have to pretend. One of the most exhausting things human beings do is pretend that we have it all together or that we know what we’re talking about when those things really aren’t true. If we begin to have those conversations, we don’t have to hide!
5) People are suffering with loneliness and depression because they feel like they can’t talk about certain things.
I’ve been in this place. I’ve wanted to talk about things in my life – sins that I’ve struggled with, thoughts and feelings I’ve had – but I’ve felt like church wasn’t the place to do it. So I was lonely and depressed because, well, I felt alone and depressed. There are many like me. If we don’t talk about these things, more people will suffer through these feelings.
6) The church should be the best place to have these conversations.
If we, the body of Christ, claim to be the keepers of truth and righteousness because of the Word we claim as our guide, why wouldn’t the church be the best place? If we’re a people who claim to love as Jesus loved, why wouldn’t the church be the best place? If we’re a people who claim to care so much about the world and the people around us, why wouldn’t the church be the best place?
7) The Gospel applies to Christians. So we are free to talk about what we do wrong.
I believe that one of the biggest weaknesses in the church today is a fear of believing the Gospel too much. We hide because we don’t recognize the forgiveness and the freedom from fear we have in Christ because of the Gospel. We don’t have to be afraid of condemnation from God, therefore we have no real reason to be afraid of the condemnation of people. People’s condemnation is nothing. Much easier said than believed, I know. I’ve been there, and I still am there. But as I’ve grown more and more in my understanding of the Gospel, I’ve grown more and more accepting of my sinfulness and more and more willing to share.
8) In church, we’re surrounded by people who are doing the same things we are.
No one in the church does something that no one else does, at least at the heart level. Each sin comes back to a selfish attitude and sinful desire for pleasure in things that God has not designed for our ultimate joy and pleasure. Even if I’m the only person in my church that struggles with lying to my boss, I can relate to others on a heart level. It’s like being at a comic book convention with a bunch of other Batman fans. If you’re all passionate about the same thing, or in the case of sin, struggling with the same thing, why not talk about it?
9) We need it mentally and psychologically.
How often have you used the phrase, “I just needed to get that off my chest”? Secrets or difficult thoughts weigh on us mentally and psychologically. By talking about it with others, that weight gets lifted. We need to talk about these difficult things before we get overwhelmed by them.
10) We can be obedient to God’s calling on our lives.
Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in doing so fulfill the law of God.” This relates specifically to sins. If a brother shares a sin struggle with me, I have the opportunity not only to help him, but to “fulfill the law of God” by doing so.
In the Great Commission in Matthew 28, Jesus tells us our mission is to make disciples. I believe this is a multi-level calling. It’s not just “go make converts,” it’s a life of investing in each and every step of discipleship. I can be part of the discipleship process of someone who is younger in the faith than me, at the same “age” in the faith as me and older in the faith than me. By talking about hard things, God can use me as part of that refining, sanctifying process of being a disciple of Christ.
I really do believe in the second part of No. 10. I’m big on that.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. This is important not only for me, but for the body of Christ, and for the world. If the church is known as the place that doesn’t talk about the hard or important things, we’re missing out on our calling.
In Part 3 of this series, I’ll examine the 10 things we need to be talking about but aren’t, or at least as much as we should, or are talking about (what I believe) in the wrong way.