There is a reason I keep going back to this theme of God loving us unconditionally and unwaveringly. We often believe that when we blow it, do that thing you promised God you'd never do, or commit sin God is done with us. If that were the case God would not have used imperfect people to be his disciples. The example of the apostles is that he build his whole ministry around imperfect people. That's us! You were meant for more. God has a plan and a purpose for you life - stop hiding and turn to Him Confess the yuck, spill the beans, and let God transform you life. It requires getting real about who and what we are. Digging past the denial and giving God all the junk. You can do it! Let the gentle words of Brennan Manning remind you that living in the light is a rejection of hanging in the shadow.
“Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity—that he loves you in the morning sun and in the evening rain—that he loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it, your whole being rejects it. Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be.”
― Brennan Manning, All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir
Dr. Henry Cloud, author of boundaries, talks about the impact our family of origin have on our lives. Many of us have unhealthy ways of doing relationships. Some of those relational hang-ups are very hard to overcome. But, we were not meant to continue on year after year struggling to overcome hour hang-ups from the past. Not only can we over come our past hurts and hangup but we can thrive. God has designed us for healthy relationships. He has designed us to know and to be known. This article is designed just to get us thinking about how our family of origin can really trip us up. Check it out here!
Let me say from the outset that I really like Cyndi Lauper’s song, “True Colors.” It is a great song even if it is a reference to homosexuality. Of course, I know I am taking a lot of literary freedom with the interpretation of the lyrics and the lyrics cannot be taken too far. But, with that said, stick with me as we think through some stuff.
In Evangelical circles there is something missing in our Christian walks and I think it is the fact God loves us, he loves sinners. When a person becomes “born again” God does not see them as sinners but as his children. But we still sin and God still loves us! For some reason we get the idea that we have to perform some dog and pony show to maintain God’s love. That’s absolute insanity! In the church, a lot of people with hurts, habits and hang-ups, spend a lot of time pretending they are not addicted to food or porn, have a cussing problem, or struggle with substance abuse. Moreover, they hide and obscure the fact that they carry wounds and hurts from the past. This my friend is denial. Without getting to philosophic I believe we have this mentality because of our “pull-it-up by the bootstraps” attitude here in America. Weakness and poverty are seen as spiritual problems God hates. Which could not possibly be further from the truth. After all God did say, “Bless are the poor in spirit.” Somewhere along the line we got the message that grace extends only at the cross and not to our everyday lives. We try to reform ourselves and fail. We are frustrated because no matter how hard we try we cannot overcome those things that trouble us. Imagine after promising God to never do that thing you hate doing – you did. You know that feeling you have of guilt and shame. You’re isolated from friends and the church because God forbid they find out you sinned. Imagine those feelings and you hear this message instead of the old all-or-nothing tapes running through your head.
“You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small.”
Imagine the comfort you’d feel hearing God saying I get how messed up you are and I love you anyway. That is the point of the cross. Coming to the cross is a starting point of a journey of transformation that does not find completion until we get to heaven. God never said, “OK I saved you now go reform yourselves.” That is insanity, but that is precisely what we do. When Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:28-29 NIV), somehow we miss the grace. Why is it that we do not realize that Jesus see’s our light side and our dark side and still loves us? Instead of hearing and believing God’s words that he is gentle and humble we expect God to be a condemning judge ready to send us to hell. That is not Jesus’ way. If that were the case the cross would be meaningless. If you and I could reform ourselves (which we can’t or else we would already have) Christ died for nothing. Being overcomers is a spiritual victory that requires the Holy Spirit to transform us. Our job is to surrender to the Holy Spirit. Lean into his grace. Imagine you heard these words:
“But I see your true colors
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful”
Without taking the lyrics too far, because we do not want to celebrate sin, we do, however, want to illustrate that God sees our true selves – the light and the dark sides of us, And, He still loves us. In fact, that is the whole point of Romans 8. We cannot reform ourselves – only God can do that through the power of the Holy Spirit. God loves us even when we sin, blow it, and are enslaved to an addiction. Those things are not the sum total of who we are – they are part of our redemption story. But, the longer we hide our darkness from God and others the less opportunity for God to work. For me, when the lyricist says let your true colors shine through I image God saying, “bring all of who you are – the good, the bad, and the ugly – to me so I can transform it." This takes radical confession to God and to other trusted godly people.
Getting into God’s journey of healing, holiness and sanctification takes a radical commitment to surrender and confession. God says this: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NIV). Did you catch that? Mercy is found in confession. If we hide the brokenness, hurts, and habits we do not find mercy. What do we find? Shame and isolation. If you go to any typical 12 step group you hear people introduce themselves this way: “Hi, my name is Stan, and I am an alcoholic (or whatever compulsive habit he is trying to break). The point is, during the 12-step meeting the participant is confessing and admitting he has a problem that he cannot solve on his own. Surrendering requires that we stop hiding our faults and confess them. To God and safe godly people. God says this: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16 NIV). Imagine if you hear this:
“Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy
Can’t remember when
I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there”
God promises in 1 John 2:1 that when we sin, “we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense —Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” Wow, did you catch that?! Jesus is for us, not against us! He will be there! So, what are you hiding? Why are not running to God with reckless abandon and let him transform your life? Call up a friend and say, “Hey I have a problem with this can you pray for me…” Whatever you do step out of denial so God can begin radically transforming you. But most important God loves you!
Post Script: Somebody might say, “I’ve got no problems, I am just fine the way I am.” Or, “I do not need the crutch of religion.” That’s a shame because Jesus says this: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24 NIV). Denial is not just a river in Egypt!
How did I get here? What is my purpose? People think about these things when babies are born or when friends and family pass on. Sometimes we think about life's inescapable questions when we have suffered, been in pain or have tried to overcome something and failed.
Answer these big questions of life requires an examination of one's worldview. Two dominate views of reality (often called a metanarrative) dominate in America: A Christian or Theistic worldview versus a Naturalistic worldview. One says reality is rooted in God because he created and sustains life. The others says that there is no god and all reality is a product of unsuperintended biological forces. Ultimately, a worldview provides the boundaries for what we know about reality and how to answer life's inescapable questions (you can learn more about worldviews here). For the Christian, reality is rooted in God, because God helps us to answer the big questions of life; moreover, God created us. Gives us a purpose, and provides meaning during life's challenges
At the heart of the big questions of life is meaning and purpose. Only God can provide meaning and purpose. Superficially, we can find meaning and purpose in our family, work, and charitable activities. However, those things fail to answer the big questions without God. Why? Because God is the author of reality, truth, beauty and purpose. Without God there is no meaning. If one is to assume that random biological process caused life there is no need for God. Moreover, these random forces are like a natural form of determinism. You are not choosing beauty, there is no truth - all of life is a produce of unsuperintended forces that are fixed by chemical process that you or no one has control over. Wow. That means truth, beauty, pain and suffering have absolutely no value and meaning. There is nothing greater than us - a divine giver of truth, morality, beauty, or love. However, if their is a God who provides truth, beautify and meaning in pain and suffering - life has meaning. I am taking the time to say this because nothing is wasted in God's economy. God is directing our lives, leading us to find purpose, healing, growth - as we go deeper in Him (Gal. 2:20). We do not have to be stuck in the rut of our same hold habits - God can transform us. So what is your view? Do you realize that God can take our lives and make something beautiful even when we hurt, fail and suffer? Take a listen to Ravi Zacharias and give us your feed back.