Recently, I had a chance to tell my story to a virtual stranger who happened to be a part of the new Church I’m in. Now, please understand, I have one of those stories that make 45+ -year-old saints blush. It’s also the type of story where people hung up on sin have walked away with the words, “you know too much about Jesus to make this story absolutely true.”
They’re right. But it’s still true. Somehow, I went from the missionary kid, the girl on fire for The Lord and the innocent, naive girl to a young woman that didn’t stick out in most secular crowds. I didn’t stick out because I was the worst of them all but exactly like them, too. I knew my Bible. But that didn’t matter. I had loved my Jesus, but I was convinced that wasn’t enough. My story is proof that the most confident in the faith can still falter- save but by the grace of God. His grace was still there for me, but I didn’t want it.
When I started telling my story to this precious lady, something happened that ticked me OFF. With no assistance from this gracious Believer, I was blood-chillingly terrified of telling the truth of my story. I started thinking of poetic things to say in order to make my story less offensive.
There is no way to make a guttersnipe’s story sound cute. It’s messy. It’s embarrassing. It is so very much the epitome of life without Christ. It shouldn’t be easy to tell. It most assuredly shouldn’t be pretty. I knew this the second I was redeemed and brought back to Christ. In all honesty, it’s a fact that makes me smile. The woman I am today is an impossible thing to be created out of my story. And yet, because of Christ, that impossibility was made possible. Hallelujah.
But still, I gave a 5-second glance to my spiritual journey, saw the woman God was asking me to talk to and literally heard myself mutter, “I can’t tell my story to her- she’s too Christian.” My palms got sweaty, I started stumbling over my words and I refused to make eye contact. If you didn’t know better, you’d think my next words were going to be, “Dearest will you marry me.”
WHY was I so scared? What had this woman done to allow the idea of transparency and a genuine attitude terrify me so? ………. Absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, when I pulled myself together & told my story, she accepted it with open arms, a loving heart and a knowing smile. She knew my past, but she was and is getting to know my present. That was enough for her.
My point is this… Church, Body of Christ, the Beloved Called Out Ones– we have got to wake UP! I know my fear of fellow believers isn’t unique. It should be, but it’s not. We tell people we know how to love because Christ leads us. Yet when we get to be transparent within our own selves, we tremble in fear with the thought of showing each other who we really are. How dare we.
How dare we:
1. Judge each other so cattily that we can’t trust the smiles on each others’ faces because we fear that what they truly think of us is just being hidden because it’s “church-time”.
2. How dare we forget that although we may be able to hide our sin, the same amount of blood was shed to kill our Lord because we over ate, as was shed because we fell to habitual, sexual sin.
3. How dare we push the Body of Christ away from ourselves simply because a handful of people showed that their humanity was just as able to wound as ours is. Yes, protection from hurt is natural … Forgiveness and restitution takes time, effort and risk… But it’s worth it.
I often times have “heart to hearts” with the men in my life. Often times I firmly tell them to stand up. But this time, it’s not just “my men”. It’s the entire Body of Christ.
Church of Christ, arise! Start allowing people to hurt just as much as be imperfect. Learn the difference between condemnation, and sober judgement. In Galatians 6:1, we are called to “restore (those in sin) in gentleness and love.” What does that look like? Why is a church that does that truly, biblically and strongly so rare? Possibly because we’re so scared of each other that we don’t stick around to see that step of restitution– we just leave.
Stand up, my Friends. You are the Body of Christ. WE are the Body of Christ. Live in such a way that those who don’t agree at least see the difference.