It happened again this morning. After blogging last week about Addie Zierman's story, the cynic burned out by the church's superficiality, I heard another story. A young woman gave a testimony about seeing church leaders from the inside, and realizing they only appeared to have it all together. "They weren't any different than me, just better at hiding it." But the church expected everyone in leadership to be perfect. So they faked it.
It strikes me there is a great gap in our thinking when this happens. We know and proclaim the Good News, God has mercy on the broken and invites sinners to come. Don't clean yourself up first, come. Let God clean you up. But then comes the undocumented shift -- you've received grace, you've been cleaned up, now go and do the right things. God's reputation as someone who can handle broken people and bring them back to yourself depends on you being perfect, flawless in your behavior.
This just doesn't add up, if you think it through. If God can heal and transform the broken, why do we expect our leaders to be perfect? Do we think the healing and transformation should be instantaneous? Did that happen for Jesus' disciples? For Paul?