Vulnerable (Adj) – capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
Why Does the Gospel Provide a Way for and Call Us to be Vulnerable?
I have never met anyone who likes to be completely honest and vulnerable all the time. I think most of the time we are afraid because of our need to control and/or in an effort to protect something other than God. Being vulnerable makes us open to get hurt by people who want to harm you, or even worst, by the people you love. It feels, at times, like there is so much at stake. What is never at stake in being vulnerable is your standing before, relationship with and love from God. In fact, the more open and honest we are before a loving God, the more we are shielded from the attack of the enemy and others. I want to explore why being a follower of Christ invites us into constant vulnerability with God and with others.
1 . The Gospel Requires Need
The gospel is all about need. It’s grounded in the fact that we need a Savior. Our first ‘parents’, Adam and Eve, chose to be their own ‘gods’ in the garden, rejecting God’s plan of intimate relationship and trusted in themselves, choosing something outside of the safety of a relationship with their Creator. We have lived with the consequences of that first sin since, as now all man are born into sin, desiring to be their own gods. God, in his great love for us, even with the weight of our rejection, sent his Son to die, making a way for us to be united to him once more. The gospel is the good news that we have a Savior who has wiped away the sins of the world. Now we must, in response, die to ourselves (our trust in our own “lordship” of our lives), trust and follow the only trustworthy One who is able to provide for all our needs. We walk in a new understanding that we cannot do it alone. The foundation of our faith is based on the need for a Savior to save us from ourselves. Saving requires an admission of weakness.
2 . The Gospel Calls us to Community
i. God is in Community within the Trinity
- If you want to have your mind blown read Jesus prayer in John for his followers (John 17:22-25)…. He repeats over and over how he is unified with the Father and he wants that same intimate unity for his flock, the Church.
ii. Honesty in Community is a protection against Pride
- Our hearts are deceitfully wicked, who can understand them? To assume we will be able to see all our sin, and have a correct perspective of ourselves, others and the gospel all by ourselves is just a little silly. The Holy Spirit does convict us, but God says we need each other to speak truth in love so that we might grow to all maturity. I believe pride is tied in closely with hearts being hardened in sin and falling away from the faith (Heb. 3:12-14). The protection from this is to live in the light with believers who know you, pray for, rebuke and suffer long for your good, like our Father in heaven is doing.
- “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart [a]that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:12-14)
iii. Image of God is complete in the Body not in one part (i.e. you)
- 1 Cor. 12:12-31
iv. Call to love your Brother/Sister requires knowing and being known
- My favorite scriptures for this are in John and 1 John. You cannot love someone you don’t know. You cannot truly be loved, without being truly known.
v. Unity is God’s chosen way to display his glory to the World
- “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22-24)
3. The Gospel is about Truth
- Let’s just be honest – The naked truth (pun intended ;)) of our desire to not be open is a desire to lie and deceive. We do not want the truth of who we are to be in the light. We do not want to be seen. . . Seen for the broken, hurting, flawed people we are. But we are already seen by God. God sees all and knows us completely. His Son died for our flawed, hurting, brokenness at the cross. Living in light of this reality is that we are able to live openly, honestly unashamed! “They look to Him and were unashamed..” (Ps. 34:5). What a beautiful picture of grace. We are fallen, broken, sin-ridden rebels and yet while we were enemies of God, God loved us (Rom. 5:6, 8:1) If that is not acceptance and love, I don’t know what is. So we can live in the reality and know that nothing we did procured that grace and salvation in Jesus. We are free to live openly, free to follow the Holy Spirit. When we do not walk open and honestly we are living as though God is not enough. We are walking in agreement with the father of lies and deception – Satan.
- Jesus is our best example of a truth teller and revealer. Jesus revealed people’s hearts and pierced through bone and marrow with the Word. He was not about an image or a task but about the whole person – both physically and spiritually.
4 . Living in Honest Relationships in Community is Evidence of Personal Fellowship with God
- “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)
5 . Hiding/Shame began at the first Sin of Adam & Eve
- Whether we want to admit it or not, hiding is a tactic created by our enemy Satan to shame, isolate, divide, corrupt and ultimately destroy. It somehow entices us to believe in the lie that we can hide from an all-knowing God. Walking in the open before God and others, is walking in truth, knowing that God saw our sins and loved us anyway. Our sins, as people who have repented and received Jesus’ forgiveness, have no effect on your standing before a God that chose to die for them. To continue to want to hide or walk in shame, is to want to control our standing before God by our own acts of righteousness and not by the gift of grace.
The primary desire to be “needless” is to be your own god – contrary to a intimate, dependent relationship with God.
The type of relationship God had always planned for his people was intimate. Before the Fall, God walked in all His glory among Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:8). God chosen people, Israel, although penetrated with sin (unable to commune with a holy God), was accompanied by the holiness of God in the middle of their tents in the wilderness. God made a way through the law for them to dwell together. GOD chose to come down and dwell with them. And of course the ultimate proof of God’s desire to be with his people is sending “God with us” our Savior Jesus Christ when we were enemies to die for our sins, making a direct way to commune with the Father. Jesus is our physical representation of the invisible God. On top of that, he sent part of Himself – the Holy Spirit – to indwell us. Like literally inside of us! Is it clear yet? God wants to be with us. Not an image of ourselves, our cleaned up version or our sacrifices. He wants us. Our hearts. Our failures. Our victories. Our desires.
Besides the ridiculousness of this reality that God would want to be with us (given who we are), God knows He is the only solution that will satisfy our wandering and needy hearts. His presence, His peace, His forgiveness, and just plain old – Himself. So who else should hold our brokenness, our weakness, failures and faults but the one who forgave, absorbed them in the greatest act of love that will ever be.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered