Hey y'all :)
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog on regret and God's amazing and undeserved forgiveness and willingness to help us to move past our guilt. If you haven't read it yet or would like to read it, here is a link: http://www.godgirl.com/profiles/blogs/living-in-his-love
The reason that I bring this up again is because last Sunday in church, our pastor shared a message that seemed to be a perfect continuation of our youth group session the week before. He titled it "As is"...
In John 10:10, it says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full."
The single most important reason Jesus lived on this earth and died for our sins was so that we could have a full life. I'm not talking busy full or materialistically full, but to have a life that is so full and overflowing with Christ and what He has done for us.
The only way people will know Who you follow is by how you love. The early church really knew what it meant to live "better together" and they understood that the only way to find that fullfillment in Christ was to discover it with other people who are embarking on the same journey. In Acts 11:26, it says, " The disciples were called Christians fist at Antioch." This means that they didn't name themselves, but they were called Christians by those who observed there lives and actions. Would someone looking at your life call you a "Christian" by the life you are living? Challenging stuff, huh??
I believe that honesty is a huge part of our incapability to bond with others who are trying to live for Christ. This means being honest with God, others, and yourself. For many of us, the question is, what has been holding you back? Touching on my post from last week, I believe that guilt can be a huge part in our struggle to be completely honest. But let me promise you, if you trust that God is who He says He is, you can be free from that guilt that is holding you back and find the courage to be completely honest with yourself, God, and those around you.
I think that so often, we have this predetermined picture of what church is and how we should be in act in church. I know I've done it too; it's so easy to feel that we need to be "perfect" in church, like art pieces in a museum. We steer away from living in the community, coming together as one, because we are so afraid that we are not "good enough". But the church was/is a place for us to be able to show our spiritual scars and wounds, our true selves, and be able to overcome the barriors of guilt that are holding us captive.
Here's an analogy to help you get a picture of how "living together" should work: If you've ever been in a furniture store, you know that there are various rooms that are brightly lit with furniture pieces that are spotless, perfect, and arranged "just so". But often, usually near the back of the store, there is another room. The lighting in this room often times isn't as bright, and if you look closely, you will notice that there is something slightly different about the pieces of furniture that this room holds. Often times these pieces of furniture aren't as shiny, or they may have a scratch or a small tear. But these pieces all have one thing in common; they all have a special tag on them that says "AS IS". No return, no exchange, no refund, just as is. It really is a nice way of saying "damaged goods".
When I got to thinking, I started realizing that we are all so similar to these "slightly irregular" pieces of furnature. We all have scratches and marks that make us imperfect. These are the exact marks that keep us from fully living out the community that God originally intended and the concept that the early church fully understood. The ironic thing is though, each and every one of us is in the same situation, and we all wear an "AS IS" tag. To be "better together" we must accept others' "AS IS" tag.
I want to leave you with the assurance that you can turn to God, and He will accept you for who you really are. No strings attached... Just "AS IS"