The Answer IS The Gospel
"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." ... However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you."
The Pandemic has certainly brought about, magnified, or stirred up so many things we have all been forced to face and deal with. At some point, we have all had to grieve the loss of the way things used to be, and we have all struggled with various degrees of loneliness, fear, anxiety, shifts in relationships, difficulties in our jobs, overnight changes in our church community, and the list goes on and on.
Many of us have or know someone that has endured deep suffering, pain, and loss over the last 11 months. And let's not forget the exhausting battle of where to draw the line of protecting our physical health but also needing to care for our mental health as well.
This pandemic has brought about division, the maskers, the non-maskers, the people that say we should shut everything down vs the people that say open everything up. Friendships and relationships even within our church family have certainly been affected... some old ones have dissolved, while some new friendships have sprouted and grown.
None of us are immune to any of these experiences. And that's why I am so so thankful for our perfect, holy, and loving God, who is always in control, who is sovereign over all things, including this pandemic, and who is always working, sanctifying, strengthening, healing, freeing, SAVING.
In our times of loneliness and isolation, God is always there. We can approach the throne of grace in confidence, knowing our Father hears us and cares for our every need.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, surely it's the reality we cannot do this life alone. We were not created to. God created the Church, His Bride, to be a family, a shelter, a home, a safe place for the brokenhearted, the poor, the outcast and the rejected.
The Church is where deep community should be found. It is where we all should feel safe, known, accepted, and loved. But we all know life is messy, people are messy, and we are all sinful and broken. And when a group of sinful broken people gather, there will be sin and brokenness.
So this post is more of a confession/plea than a devotion. First, let me just say, God has been showing my dark ugly heart to myself a WHOLE lot lately. I know my flesh struggles with self-centeredness, anxiety, insecurity, anger, resentment, jealousy, envy, the list goes on and on. And not to be purposefully offensive, but I'm assuming it's a real safe bet to say that I'm not alone in this.
So how do we, as individuals, who all have the default to be self-seeking, self-absorbed, come together and be the Church? How do we safely and unashamedly allow others in, let others know us, see us for who we really are without insecurity or fear rejection? How do we actually build a Christ-honoring, God-exalting, strong and deep at-its-core community with one another?
The answer is the Gospel. But let's get to that in a minute.
I can tell you what keeps us from having true Gospel-centered community. That answer, my sisters, is PRIDE. Pride says my life is my own, my life for me. Pride is bitter, jealous, quick to anger, unforgiving, self-righteous, self-serving and self-seeking. Pride is easily offended, resentful, bitter, and not forgiving.
If you're anything like me right now, you're thinking, OUCH. The spotlight is GLARING on my sin right now (and hopefully on yours too) and it does not feel good. But there is hope. God does not leave us where we are at, in the muck and mire of our sin, but in his loving goodness, He graciously reveals our blind spots, our sin that is keeping us from experiencing Him in a more intimate way and that is also hindering us from having deep, intimate Christ-centered community with one another.
So, let's quickly get to the solution, the medication we all need for our sinful, prideful hearts. We all know the opposite of pride is humility. And we all know where we can find the PERFECT example of humility, and that's in JESUS.
Jesus gave up his glory to come down as a helpless baby, born in the lowliest circumstances. Jesus tells his disciples, the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus, at the cross, laid his life down for ours, the ultimate act of humility. Christ gave up his glory, his power, his very life so that we would receive HIS glory, HIS power, HIS life. HIS righteousness covers our unrighteousness.
Sisters, this reality must be our identity. We are not our own but we were bought at a price. We are His daughters, daughters of the King and we are His Bride. Let us lay down our independence, our pride, our striving, and humble ourselves before our loving Father. Confess our sins to Him and to each other and know with unashamed confidence we are forgiven, made new, holy and blameless. Because of what Christ has done, because of His humility we can share in His humility, knowing confidently where our worth and value are found.
So, in closing I challenge all of us to fight hard against the war on Pride. Call it out when you feel it fester in your heart or mind. Let's resolve to resist the devil and draw close to God. Let's be women of the Word, and let's be women on our knees crying out to God for a heart of repentance, so that we may be molded into His image more and more.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and as we seek Him, we will become more and more like him. We will grow in humility, dying to self, seeking the good of others, loving others without expecting anything in return.
I love you, I am praying for you. I am praying that these words help with what you need. I am praying that God would purify our hearts to love Him and treasure Him above all else and because of our love for Him, and we can love each other well. Even when it gets sticky and hard. May His grace and peace wash over all of us and may we seek His face first, always.
Love you guys,
Rachel - CTC Friend