It's Saturday morning in the middle of a hot August summer, so my dad decides to cut the grass. Does he wear shorts and a cooler t-shirt or tank top? No, instead he puts on his favorite pair of purple polyester pants, the same ones he was wearing the night before, white socks, black shoes and an old white undershirt rolled up at the sleeves.
He was a Honyak, and fashion was as foreign to him as lawn jarts are to an Eskimo . Even my sisters gave up on buying him trendy clothes, because to my dad, nothing felt quite as comfy as those polyesters! He didn't care who watching him, he was comfortable, and that is all that mattered.
I call this attitude: "what you see is what you get!" Honyaks for the most part are not trying to put on a show, nor are they trying to impress, because they don't really know how to. Image to them means little as compared to substance. What is interesting, in the bible the word "sincere" has the foundational idea of being a person "without wax." What this is in reference to is to the devious shyster merchants of the day who would seal up the cracks in their clay pots they were selling with colored wax to fool people into buying them. The wax made it look like the pots wouldn't leak. Then when the customer would go home and fill up their new jar with water, they would start to leak. They were scammed! So, without wax means you are person who is not trying to fool anybody - - you are the genuine article. Honyaks may be nerdy, but they are the genuine article.
All Christians are meant to be sincere, without wax people as well. We are not to put on a show, we are not here to impress, but to reflect on the outside who we really are on the inside.
A while ago I attended a funeral at an expensive, polished church for a fine Christian lady who lost an ugly 4 year battle to Alzheimer’s and chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis. In her last pathetic years of life, her hands were clenched into unusable claws as her memory faded into oblivion. Looking over the snapshots of her younger years there was no hint given to the broken women she was to become. Facing the bare truth of Adam’s fallen race stings. But instead of crying out for mercy and facing the naked truth of death, the funeral service was a charade. This, ahem, respectable and refined church did everything to ignore and even cover over the horror of life’s brokenness with plastic smiles and Christian euphemisms.
From the layers of thick make-up applied on the corpse, to the preacher’s eloquent cadence behind the pulpit, starched white shirt and assured look of smug seriousness as he sits down in his velvet pew, they tried as hard as they could to muffle death’s stirring voice. Why was he so stinkin’ assured? Throughout the rest of the service we had to listen to campy songs where people listening were expected to be impressed when the singer hit all the right notes. Somehow lost in all the show was an exhortation by the pastor to cling to the hope of Christ’s resurrection.
Why was he so assured?
As a pastor myself, I chafe at the polished religious show we feel compelled to put on. Did Peter sit down in his newly washed cloak and speak in hushed tones while Matthew played the organ as the heart-broken family filed out of the freshly vacuumed Jerusalem colonnades? I know we live in America where buildings, pianos and power-point have become part of our way of life; but we have also lost something. I don’t know how to quite put my finger on it, but people have become plastic.
Showmanship, polish and sweet sugary words have become the tools of our trade. The less mistakes someone makes, it is assumed the better pastor they must be.
But a pastor was never meant to be a showman! I believe a pastor is to be an experienced guide into the comforting and yet terrifying presence of God. And you don’t lead someone to God through learned religious phrases. God is only encountered through unvarnished sincerity. That is where the dynamic effects of Honyak living comes in: weakness, need, fear, anger, desperation and great laughter are openly admitted and freely expressed. Honyaks do not need to perform on stage for religious critics; we readily understand our audience is before the divine Godhead himself. He already knows our thoughts from afar and remembers that we are dust, and Honyaks have no trouble admitting this.
But this presents for us a very real problem: No one wants to follow someone that is quick to admit failure and weakness. Do they? We have been taught in conferences and leadership magazines that confident and assured leaders are the only kind of men and women people will follow. A weak man can’t grow a church. A person who openly admits their needs are in no position to disciple others, are they?
Who would want a Honyak to serve when you can have a person that is ‘so stinkin’ assured’ to comfort hurting people? Oh well, I better go, I heard there is a sale at the local Good Will store on polyester pants!