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!