When a man or woman is truly honest (not just working at it) it is virtually impossible to insult them personally. There is nothing there to insult. Those who were truly ready for the kingdom were just such people. Their inner poverty of spirit and rigorous honesty had set them free.
- Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Honesty. It's one of those words we talk about, kinda like "community." But there's talking about honesty (working at it) and then there's being honest, rigorously honest. What we found in our last ministry experience is actually what we've found in most ministry experiences; there is a ceiling of honesty that people will tolerate, but don't bust a hole in the ceiling. There is acceptable honesty that we'll all, well, most of us, participate in, but don't go beyond the borders - don't visit the land of rigorous honesty.
The opposite of rigorous honesty is posing. I first heard that word from author John Eldredge. He contends that most men are posers. We pose as good husbands, good fathers, got-it-together pastors, upstanding citizens, etc. However, the reality is we're not so good husbands or fathers, we're pastors who many times don't believe what we preach, and we're selfish citizens at best and we gladly stand up for more selfishness. We're posers. And you can insult us personally and it can knock us on our backs for weeks or months, such is the fragile ice of our posing.
Women pose too. It is not gender specific. Got-it-together moms, fashion divas, hard charging executives in a business suit, etc.
I don't want you think I'm not a poser, for I am. I do it daily. But there are moments of rigorous honesty in my life that I pray are multiplying and gradually taking over this life I live. But remember, there is a border to the honesty we'll tolerate in many church settings. And to cross it is dangerous. Freeing, but dangerous. For you will experience friendly fire, shots from those you have called "friend." It's not pretty. Freeing, but not pretty.
Rigorous honesty does not bode well in places where "every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before." Because some days aren't sweeter. They're sour with disappointment and sadness. Rigorous honesty finds little air to breathe in rooms where "we'll work 'till Jesus comes." Because some days or weeks or months were meant to be sabbaths. Rigorous honesty can find God's truth in R rated films. That doesn't fly in those of the Thomas Kinkaide persuasion. Rigorous honesty finds little affirmation in minds where the Bible is the fourth member of the Trinity. I once called the Bible a "springboard" that propels me into my life, here on this earth, this "one wild and precious life" God has given me. A gentleman, whose "gentleness" was really a pose, called me the devil for saying that. Once somebody in a church calls you "the devil", your reputation starts to lag a little. Especially if you're the pastor.
Rigorous honesty is freeing. But it has to begin with yourself. If I'm not rigorously honest with myself, there's no way I'll ever be that way with you. It seems the issue is fear. To paraphrase the oft-quoted somebody: If I tell you who I really am, there's a chance you may not like me. Because I'm all I've got. That's fair. I know that fear. But I do not believe God desires us to live in fear.
The LORD loves those who hate evil,
he preserves the lives of his saints
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.