(forgive the typos, I'm thumbing this in on my mobile)
How are you doing? That's a question that sets us right up to be fake.
How are you doing? With a hammer and nails.
How's it going? Forward.
My dad would get on his soapbox on this all the time in a kids-these-days kind of way. I don't blame him, the question is too vague and open ended, leaving limitless possibilities of vague, fake, answers. It is this fakeness that Michael Spencer addresses in chapter 14 of Mere Churchianity, the man who wouldn't smile.
Christians are almost pre-conditioned on giving the right answer. Just as outside of the church, inside we know better than to answer honestly. Most of the time, we really don't want to know the truth in someone's life- their pains or their sins. And when we do sincerely want to know, we don't know how to ask. We default to the standard "what's up?" I hate being asked because I am often so in-the-moment to answer
truthfully. How am I that moment? My answer is independent of whether I committed mass-murder the day before, if I'm tip-toeing through the tulips at that moment I'll answer as though nothing happened.
We put on other masks as well. I was recently in a Christian book store (please don't hold it against me) to stock up on books and music for a long business trip. The store was semi-busy, and I felt awkward with every other shopper I saw. I assumed they were Christians, so should I have greeted them in a special way as if there's a secret handshake? If they ask how I am, am I expected to answer, "blessed" or openly confess my sins? So I intentionally kept to myself and didn't dare look anyone in the eye. But I would sneak a peek or two and I noticed I wasn't the only one feeling and acting I'm this way.
It is tragic that the Church has developed such a country-club mentality that real vulnerability is rare and awkward, almost unwelcomed. When we are commanded to "bear with one another" and "carry one another's burdens" such an environment is contrary to Jesus' expectations of others knowing we are His disciples by our love for one another.
I posted similar thoughts here (http://theoppositepc.blogspot.com/2010/02/love-without-hypocrisy.html) and here (http://theoppositepc.blogspot.com/2010/02/love-must-be-sincere.html). Also check out the discussions by Glynn Young and Nany Rosback at http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com and http://nancemarie.blogspot.com/.