Too good to be true

bestEverything he said was ‘just right.’ His stories were impressive, too. On the surface, he looked like an amazing man; accomplished, of deep faith, a servant of the Lord. I wanted to trust him but I could detect that there was a disconnect between the image and the reality, little cracks and inconsistencies in evidence. Over time, the truth emerged when the carefully constructed image crumbled. The professions of faith and love were replaced by angry accusations against others when situations did not turn out as he wanted. The man eventually moved on to a new town where he tried to impress a whole new group of people with his ‘spirituality.’  Later on I discovered it was a pattern in Sam’s (not real name) life. He moved frequently, leaving unpaid debts, broken promises, and disappointment.

Nobody’s perfect. It is a cliché that happens to be true! We need realize that and choose to be authentic about ourselves. Sam is a man who could be a productive Christian, useful to the Kingdom of God, if only he would be real and work through the struggles of life instead of trying to create a perfection that is not his to claim! But, apparently ‘real’ is too frightening for him, so he just keeps telling his stories, living the lie.

Amos, a spokesman for God in ancient Israel, saw the hypocrisy of the people.  They kept the feasts of the religious calendar. They gave their tithe to the Temple. They offered sacrifices and sang the songs of worship, but it was a façade.  The Lord, Who longed for their love, Who wanted them to know His love, grew angry with them and here was His challenge. “This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; … You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine…. Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. … Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:4, 7, 11, 23-24, NIV)  What does the Lord say?  “Stop singing. Get real! Do what’s right!”

What joy we find when we come to know ourselves and come humbly, honestly, openly to our God. It is true that the One who knows us best, loves us most. He does not love us because we are smarter, taller, richer, or more beautiful than someone else. He does not love us because our faith is flawless or our song is sweet. He loves us because He is good. The scandal of grace, if you would call it that, is that when we get real, when we stop hiding and pretending, we find forgiveness.  More than that, we find the power to change, as we become friends of God, filled with His Spirit.

Grace is not an excuse to stay as we are; it is an invitation to enter the Presence of the Holy where we are transformed. The Word says He looks deep inside of us, reading even our motives, and invites us to bring ourselves, our broken places, our less than wonderful secrets, into the Throne Room of Heaven. And, what do we find? A loving Savior!  Pointing to those who lived behind their religion, the Spirit says, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:11-16, NIV)

Ask God to help you to be authentic; before Him, before the world, and with yourself – a person who has found grace and who gives grace, a sinner made whole who is a healer in a world desperately in need of restoration.  He makes the broken beautiful, the wounded whole, the sinner into a saint.

_____________

Just As I Am

 Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy Blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy Promise, I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 Just as I am though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt.
Fightings and fears, within, without;
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind-
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Charlotte Elliott | William Batchelder Bradbury © Words: Public Domain

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