Most evangelical churches are not safe places for people to honestly share their struggles because those struggles are met with an attitude of judgement by fellow believers who ironically struggle with their own undisclosed demons. Just as many "dress up" to go to church, looking their best, we tend to hide behind a mask of righteousness, pretending all is well when in fact we struggle regularly. Is it any wonder why so many personal issues go unresolved that could and should be resolved among God's people?
This also goes to our preaching where truth is proclaimed with vigor but grace is not nearly as present. We should celebrate truth and obedience to Jesus. It is what we are called to. The problem is that we are also still sinners who struggle and are not without sin (1 John 1, Romans 7). And thus in desperate need of God's grace and encouragement. When we call people to obedience but do not acknowledge common struggles with sin and when we do not offer solutions and help for that sin, we create the illusion that those around us must not struggle with the issues we struggle with - when in reality they do.
Empathy toward others in the church is a large part of the grace equation. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It includes compassion, sympathy, concern, tender heartedness, mercy, gentleness, affection and love. These are all part of the grace equation for God as we see in the example of Christ in the Gospel's.
God's truth is most powerful and transformative when His grace is also present. It is because of His grace that we are able to deal with His truth. These characteristics are also the very pieces of church culture that make it a safe place to reveal our true selves and live in authentic community. Is it any coincidence that Jesus came in grace and truth in that order to live among us (John 1:17)?
I am saddened by how often I see Christians castigating other Christians with harshness and a lack of grace. One movement does it to another. We do it to each other in the church. We often do it from the pulpit. Truth proclaimed in harshness may be truth but it does not reflect Jesus. The harder the truth (and there are many in the Gospel) the more grace must be present. To those who proclaim that they are bearers of truth I say this: Unless you exhibit the grace in equal measure to the truth you proclaim you do not reflect Jesus.