It is unfortunate how we have let the performance-based culture we live in make its home within the walls of church buildings. A repercussion of that indwelling is the adoption of moralism as a standard with which we measure each other’s spirituality. When the misfits and outcasts walk in our doors, they should not feel the same pressure to fit in that the world places on them; but I am afraid they do. I am afraid my hands can be found red in trying to put my best foot forward at church, as if I was in a constant interview for the most-inspirational-member award.
If I am guilty, then likely my words that proclaim, “Everyone should come as they are to the foot of the cross,” are not convincing.
Most Christians are aware of the power of sharing a testimony of salvation. Some of us have another’s story to thank for its use in our own eternal salvation narrative. Shouldn’t the practice of sharing stories of sanctification hold a similar importance?
If you want to change the world, let the world see how you have been changed.
And if you want to change the Church, let the Church see how you are being changed.
We are quick to share what God teaches us, but rarely find the words to express the state of disobedience that originated the need to be taught. Regrettably though, leaving out confession and vulnerability does little to reach those who look at the mess in their life, and wonder if they will ever be free from it. There is a reason why people with extreme stories of conversion are frequently asked to share- it gives people confidence that if someone who was that far away could be accepted, loved, and saved by Jesus, so can they.
The same could be true if those who others see as "perfect" were to share that they too still need the Lord to “clean them up.” We need more vulnerability in order for the confidence found in salvation to also be found in sanctification. Believers must become more transparent about the dark places in their life, not only so they can be transformed by the light of the Gospel of grace, but also so others can have the courage to come and be cleaned.
As people, who have all been called to live our life with the mission of making disciples, we need to abandon the performance-based mentality. We need to not see admitting failure as weakness; instead, we need to encourage it as a product of understanding grace.
We do not need to be dishonest in order to “protect” God’s reputation. He is the King of Kings and his fame is unstoppable. We need not be afraid that if we share how messed up we are, that we will discredit the power of the Cross. Instead, it is the denying of our need for redemption that dishonors the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice.
What’s the hardest thing about all of this?
It is going to take you. It is going to have to be your life that runs exposed through the church halls. It is going to be your sin, your brokenness, and your fear that others will see. While you may not win the outstanding-Christian award, remember that Jesus himself wouldn’t have either. He would have been too busy hanging out with you, a sinner who was hopeless on your own.
How has someone’s vulnerability encouraged you?
How can you choose to be more vulnerable in your community?
What is holding you back?