Honesty within community is not easy. And yet we are called to walk in light, in truth and confess our sins one to another. (1 John 1:6-7; James 5:7) But we’ve all been there before. We’ve shared our struggles, confessed our sin and ask for help only to be rejected, judged, criticized, misunderstood or worse. Let’s just be honest, community is filled with hurt people who often hurt people.
What if I am too much? What if I am not enough? What if my sins are too great? What if I am betrayed, criticized, or rejected when you see the real me?
If I share my struggles will you be the one to encourage or tear down? If you see my weaknesses will you help strengthen me or use them against me?
These are the questions that go through our minds and it causes us to withdraw and remember the past. Past hurts. Past betrayals, rejections and sins.
And I wonder is this the enemy’s plan? What a great plan it is! To have us focus on self, to focus on the past. I mean seriously, if we are so focused on what has been done to the point that we are unwilling to reach out in love, grace and friendship then he has successfully stopped community.
I am reminded that Jesus was criticized, misunderstood, betrayed and abandoned by those that were His friends. Some of His friends had a hard time truly seeing the real Jesus but instead saw what they wanted Him to be. Yet Jesus kept them close, loved them, walked along side of them and would go to the cross for them. And because He did their lives would never be the same.
I wonder what would happen inside the church walls if we did what Jesus did? What if we loved even when an unkind word about us was spoken? What if, when we were criticized, judged or rejected, we offered grace? What if, instead of pulling away, we moved forward? What if we stopped hiding? What if we died to ourselves and our hurts and embraced others?
What if we began seeing others as Jesus sees them? After all they most likely have been hurt too and are in need of a bit of love, grace and encouragement. We all have been hurt by an imperfect community, I really don’t think there are any exceptions. So they don’t need more hurt, they need to see Jesus in us and through us.
What if instead of fearing what man might do or say we fear God? I believe that we would be changed. All of us. We would not, could not remain the same.
As I write this I realize how hard it is. No one wants to choose to move toward possible hurt or rejection. I know I don’t. I would rather stay where it’s safe, where I know I am loved and accepted. I would rather stay in the safety of my home surrounded by my family. And yet Jesus hasn’t called us to safe, He called us to love one another. He has called us to community. .
Oh Father we can not do what you ask. We can not open ourselves up to hurt again. Forgive us for how we have treated one another. Help us make amends where possible. Send Your Spirit upon us and fill us with Your love and grace. Cause us to overflow unto others with the gifts You have given us. Help us to live honestly and truthfully with our brothers and sisters with all wisdom and discernment.