It is sobering to consider that many of our churches – and let’s be honest, we ourselves are far more often the problem than the solution – foster a more domesticated brand of community than a gang. Real fellowship is elusive. Even among our brothers and sisters in Christ, we wear masks and hide sins and parade virtues and judge others. Many find the church to be the place where it is hardest, not easiest, to speak openly about personal struggles.

This is deeply ironic and tragic because in the Christian gospel we have the one resource that can unlock the heart and enable us to take off the masks. As long as we view the Christian church as a club for those who make the grade socially, we will be unwilling to speak freely of our shortcomings as believers. Only when the single prerequisite to inclusion in the church is joint agreement that there is no prerequisite will we let down our guard.