Monday, September 12, 2011

Gospel Centered Life - Part 1

As promised, I am beginning a four part series that will take a look at who we really are, the comforting reality that we're not alone, the breathtaking truth that we don't have to try harder and the scandalous declaration that "it is finished"! Here is Part 1 -
who we really are...

Our Façade
a false.superficial.artificial.appearance 
      
We are all familiar with the Sunday morning façade – you know, the pretense on vivid display when you hit the church grounds. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter what happened that morning or in the car on the way to church, how quickly the smiles come on when we step foot out of the car!

I sat with a woman last Saturday and she is not really plugged into the church although her family has attended Sunday morning faithfully for several years. She told me with tears in her eyes that it’s too hard to be around other women who have it all together. Her life is hard and she faces challenges that have stressed her family and their relationships. She has learned that the way the game is played is to put on a façade at church. 

{via google}


The problem is that inside she is dying. 
Inside she knows all to well - everything is not fine.
Her marriage is struggling.
They are dealing with issues with their children. 






But, we are Christians and we must demonstrate to a watching world that life is fine because we’re Christians! The reality is it's all pretense, a mask, a show - and we're very good at it. We have perfected the pat answers and the ability to change the subject quickly when conversation hits a little too close to home. We protect the very idols that are enslaving us, that are buried so deeply inside of us that we begin to believe they're not even there. The idol of fear - we don’t want to give in and let people know what we’re really like because we’re afraid they may not like us if they know the truth. The idol of pride - we’re just too vain – we really want people to think we’re better than we are. Or the idol of control - it doesn't matter how we feel or what happens to other people as long as we can control the situation and keep it within our perfectly orchestrated plan for our lives.


{via flickr}

Listen to what Jesus says about our façade:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27






Did you catch that “you look good on the outside…but on the inside dead and everything unclean”?  It’s crucial for us to remember that Jesus was not speaking to the irreligious – he was speaking to the religious.  The church goers and the bible believers.  The ones who looked like they had it all together!

He was calling them out.

"Only the gospel frees us to admit our weaknesses, because our worth is not based on our being strong, but in Jesus being strong for us."  ~ Tullian Tchividjian

He beckons to us in our day - take off your mask and stop pretending. He says I know who you are. I know you are exhausted trying to make it look like you are fine. But we both know you're not.  I came for that very reason.  To rescue you from pretense and striving and burden bearing - to free you from feeling like you have to fake it.  I love you and you don’t need to do that anymore."  

What does being gospel centered look like?              




Acknowledging our facade.
Taking off our mask. 
Admitting weakness.
Giving up.





I know, you're thinking - this is ridiculously hard! I can't do it. It's too painful. Yes, it is. My Pastor says it's like having the flesh ripped off your bones. It is hard and painful. Which is why we can't to this, we need a Physician - the Great Physician. Eustace from Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis knew all about the pain and the Physician:
"In C.S. Lewis’ book Voyage of the Dawn Treader a young boy named Eustace becomes an ugly scaly dragon as a consequence for being selfish and stubborn. He realizes his mistake and desperately wants to become a boy again, so he tries and tries to tear into and rip off his dragon skin. There’s just one problem, he can’t get his dragon skin off no matter how hard he tries. The deeper he tries to go into the dragon scales, the more pain he feels. After a while, Aslan comes to his aid and leads him to a well to bathe in. But since he’s a dragon he cannot enter the well, the skin must come off first. Eustace tries again to painfully tear through the layers of dragon skin but again becomes aware that he cannot do it on his own. Aslan says, “You’ll have to let me undress you.” Eustace describes the event:

{via google}

I was so afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt…he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft…then he caught hold of me…and threw me into the water…I’d turned into a boy again…After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me…with his paws…in these new clothes I’m wearing."
This terrifies me: "I was so afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it."  

But here freedom awaits: "And there was I as smooth and soft…then he caught hold of me…and threw me into the water…I’d turned into a boy again…After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me…with his paws…in these new clothes I’m wearing."

Great Physician come...take hold of me...


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