A Culture of Superficiality

superficialFake smiles.

Fake lifestyles.

Fake happiness.

Just look around and you can see it.  A culture of superficiality has pervaded our society almost to the point where the lines blur between real and fake.  Sounds harsh?  Maybe, but it’s easily done and I can see areas in my own life where I’m guilty of being superficial.

We’ve become good at pretending we don’t have problems in our lives.  And why not?  Sometimes it’s easier to hide things for fear of judgmental eyes staring us down or developing anxiety over having to deal with a personal issue.  As a Christian, we know we have sin in our lives, or at least we should know (1 John 1:8-10), but all too often, we hesitate to share our struggles because of the rejection or embarrassment that’s soon to follow.  “If I can just make them think I’m ok, ” we say and before you know it, we’ve convinced ourselves we truly are ok.  But deep down we know we’re not.  Deep down, where the real you resides, you can’t be fooled.  Those struggle you have are real.  They cause real fear and real guilt.  They create real anxiety and real consequences.

I would love at this point to encourage confession.  1 John 1:9 tells us that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  But let’s be honest.  That’s easier said than done.  It’s not so much God’s reaction that we worry about.  We believe him when he promises to forgive us.  It’s everyone else who hears about it and passes judgment or leers at us with a critical eye.  It’s why you rarely see people publicly confess sin anymore.  They don’t want to be the next topic of discussion when others start to gossip.  If you confess a serious sin, others tend to treat you differently.  But if you admit to something of a non-scandalous nature, some will think you’re inauthentic.  Sounds like a no-win situation.

And yet, the Bible encourages us to confess (James 5:16).  Maybe if we were to meditate on Romans 15:7, we could make confession much more acceptable and do away with a lot of superficial behavior in our churches.  That passage reads, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”  When you are with people who accept you fully, who look past your mistakes and see the work God is doing in your heart, your wounds can begin to heal and God is praised in the process.  It doesn’t mean that we accept sin but that we treat others the way God has treated us.  It means we project our true self to others, sin and all, and we are willing to embrace those around us even when their imperfections show.  Christ looked at my sinful, broken state and still died on my behalf.  Shouldn’t I do the same for others?

Be encouraged today to be more transparent with your brothers and sisters in Christ over your problems with sin in your life.  And be the one to encourage others when they confess their own difficulties.  Refuse to condemn them or gossip about them and instead be there to catch them when they fall.  Because God knows we could all use each other as a safety net sometimes.

-Joe

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7 thoughts on “A Culture of Superficiality

  1. Melissa

    Love this, Joe! At first, my thought was well we have a reason to smile even we have troubles because of our hope in Heaven. Then, as I kept reading I realized it was because of acting like nothing is wrong. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. That’s hard to do because I’ve seen people hurt by others when they opened up. Shunned even. Grudges held, gossip flying. It has even driven some youth away that were not forgiven by their church friends. An environment needs to be created that practices love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. It’s so easy to hold on to the negative, and harder to practice what we preach. Just in class last night we discussed how we should fear God, not man and do His will no matter what. I’m going to repost this. We appreciate your zeal!

    1. Joe Butler

      Thank you Melissa. I would hate to say this is a big problem, but our society has grown to be more independent and standoffish and that seems to be creeping into the church as well. I could easily begin to name many people who are truly genuine in their behavior around me and others, but there are also just as many who, for lack of a better term, put on a front and are really struggling. And I know why they do it, because it’s the same reason I’ve done it myself at times. We are worried about what others will think or how we’ll be talked about or even if we’ll be ostracized. I know that God wants us to act like a family so badly and we don’t do that when we’re not transparent with one another for fear of judgment. He wants us to be accepting of others the way he is with us and not to assume our sin is any less egregious than theirs. He wants us to practice love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy as you said and do so because that brings honor to Him. As a guy, it’s hard to find relationships that have real depth and transparency. Everyone seems too worried about work or home life or bills or whatever to really share who they are. I think we’ll really become the kingdom of God here on earth when we can start doing that.

  2. This is a great post, Joe. I think another reason we are reluctant to confess our sins to others is that should we confess and then fail again, we will see disappointment or criticism on their faces. It’s also another reason to confess because it helps hold us accountable.

    1. Joe Butler

      Excellent point. Confession doesn’t mean we’ve completely defeated something. Sometimes we struggle daily with certain temptations and we need the help of our Christian brothers and sisters to hold us accountable and keep us motivated with encouragement and prayer.

  3. Hi Joe, this is on point! Personally I am undergoing a very challenging phase in my life that I dont want others even my immediate family to know that I am somehow defeated or not ok! Your ongoings on confession to God and to others is a the ultimate truth that we all need to be really free from the bondage of sins in our daily walk with God! Thank you for allowing me to see this truth!

    1. Joe Butler

      I understand how you feel not wanting to divulge the trials you’re going through to others. There’s a certain level of fear involved with being transparent, but rest assured God is fully aware of your challenges. Sometimes, it’s liberating to voice those things out loud in prayer just to hear yourself say them and acknowledge the real difficulties they are causing. I would still suggest that you accept the help and counsel of someone close to you who may be able to give you a perspective on things that maybe you haven’t thought of yet. Yes, that requires you to put yourself out there a little, but we are encouraged by God to share one another’s burdens and knowing that someone else has your best interests at heart is very rewarding. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I’ll be here if you need anything. God bless.

      1. Thank you for your thoughts and I agree to all you have said. I am trying little by little to share the rough roads i am having right now to a dear friend of mine. God bless you more!

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