The third way to demonstrate the high priority of the church is by accepting each other as we are (Ephesians 5:1-2). The Church has a wonderful fragrance about it. We are to love each other — period! We don’t love because of worth, or looks, or wealth or spirituality.
When you begin to love someone, it could be your mate or a very special friend, you come to a certain place in that relationship when you discover the real truth about that person. It becomes uncomfortable. You discover and touch tender areas. You become vulnerable. All of us have that proverbial hidden can of worms or skeleton in the closet.
That is a real fear many of us have. Many years ago I read a secular book by Eugene Kennedy that addressed this issue entitled, “If you really knew me, would you still love me?” I liked that book because it dealt with fear many people have. Sure, we may have been very successful our entire life in covering up those sensitive areas with walls of steel, through resistance and avoidance. We are willing to open ourselves to that point, that tender spot, that place of vulnerability because it is safe; it is easy. But it is also superficial. We may even be those who are only willing to know someone else up to that point, and that is unfair.
We need to love right on through that painful area. We need to learn to love right to the end; refuse to let go, even though you know everything about that person. Refuse to let go! You also have to allow someone to love you beyond that painful area.
One of the things that brought me to the Lord was my need to be that open — yet still accepted. I had lived my entire life behind a facade, a lie. My personal theme song was Behind Blue Eyes, from The Who. No one knew the truth about me. I was miserable; I was so afraid that if people truly knew me, the real me, they would never accept me.
Finally, I found a relationship that was secure; someone who loved me, not the imaginary me, but the real, flesh and blood me. So I bore my soul to her. I confessed the lie that I had lived for over ten years. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life! (but it was that repentance, and willingness to be straight that finally opened my heart to the Lord). Because of renewed sense of freedom, I continued to open up with other people with whom I felt a sense of security. I was quite amazed to find that very one of them continued to accept me and support me. They never threw me aside or rejected me. (Except the first one, the one I thought would be the only one to stay).
When I finally surrendered my life to Jesus, it was without reservation or second thoughts. I made a commitment to follow Him. But there was a time when I began to remember my “old life” and began to imagine how the Lord could use me. I was a loser, and I knew it.
It was at that time that I began attending a small group of college-aged folks and one sister I had never met before came up to me and never took her eyes off of mine. With an obvious anointing, she told the story of a woman in Luke 7 who came to Jesus and anointed his feet with her tears (go read Luke 7, the whole chapter is great). Then this sister looked at me and said, “I don’t know you, but the Lord wants you to know your many sins have been forgiven — because you love me much.” Wow!
What I learned through all that pain was that fragile love is empty and worthless. It only loves to that point of pain, then quits. Unfortunately, that is what most Christians have seen demonstrated. They have learned through past experiences that “if they knew what I did” they could never face their fellow believers again.
Fortunately, there are those who are willing to go crashing right on through that threshold of pain, to where they really known by others. Those are the ones that openly confess that they are not perfect mothers; that they scream at their children sometimes; that they drink; or swear. They openly confess their addiction to pornography, or smoke cigarettes when no one is around. Maybe they masturbate or have committed adultery.
There are all kinds of hidden things going on in the lives of Christians. Why do you think James told us to confess our sins to each other? Because we are supposed to be nosy? NO. We confess our sins in order for other to pray for us so we may be delivered. For goodness sakes! The Lord is not building His Church from the best the world has to offer. He is taking those who are messed up — the foolish of the earth.
“Sing with joy . . . Make your praises heard, and say, O Lord, save your people‟ . . . See, I will gather them from the . . . ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble . . .” (Jeremiah 31:8, 9).
“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:12).
I occasionally see a bumper sticker that says: “Christians aren’t perfect; they are just forgiven.” I used to think a backslider wrote it, but I missed the truth there. It isn’t a means of excusing our failures and sins, but simply acknowledging that we need the Lord’s grace and the support of our brothers and sisters!
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.