On Sunday nights, our church breaks into small groups meeting in church people’s homes around the area. I’ve been blessed by this ministry significantly over the past years, and this Sunday night was no exception. Except that it was a blessing in an exceptional way.
As I think back, I remember the usual openness and transparency. I remember different people confessing specific struggles of jealousy and envy. I recall someone elaborating on his sin of comparing himself with others and the discontentment that breeds.
I also remember my own contribution relating a vague, theoretical struggle.
As the week has gone on, I’ve seen the sharp contrast between my answer and theirs. Theirs was specific and raw. Mine comfortable. Theirs was humble confession. Mine was self-righteous blindness. Theirs a shattered vase of perfume poured on Jesus’ feet. Mine an Ananias-and-Sapphira-like withholding.
Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
If we’ve received the gospel call, we are free from the paralyzing fear others won’t accept us if they really know us. Why? Because in the gospel we have a secure acceptance in Christ. No one can ever pluck us from His hand and nothing can change our standing before Him. The gospel frees us from pretending we all aren’t desperately wicked sinners with a lot of baggage to boot. Why? Because we all meet at the foot of a cross, where our sin is nailed with Christ, seeing the punishment our sin deserves poured out on our innocent Savior.
The gospel frees us to be known by others because we have been fully known, forgiven, and accepted by Him. Maybe I’m starting to get it.
I’m thankful for a church where it’s safe to be a sinner. I need these people, their struggles, their transparency, and their gospel determination. I am less of a Christian than I should be if they aren’t in my life. And Sunday night was a powerful reminder why.