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Being Understood

I’d like to hand this blog over to my friend Tariq for the day.  He has some great thoughts that are worth engaging with, so I’ll hop out of the way after a brief introduction.

Tariq and I met because he was handing out flyers on the quad one day that said “Beware of Christians” and I stopped to ask what that was all about.  Turns out it was a documentary.  After that, I’ve had the pleasure of working with him in a local human rights group, and the man hasn’t stopped preaching a gospel of self-effacing love and peace since I’ve known him.

Here he explores what it looks like to honestly admit our brokenness, to shake off the yoke of oppression, to finally come to terms with our humanity in the name of God.  This post really builds.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Some of the most powerful words in the world are “me too.”

*     *     *

In timidity and pride, I have too often turned my face and ran from the open arms of the children of God. They were set in place to “carry one another’s burdens,” (Galatians 6:2) but fear of vulnerability has kept mine pinned stiffly to my back.

But what “fear” is this? It is the fear of letting down my vigilant guard and being honest; it is the fear of being laid out bare before the ones that I love; it is the fear of open and sincere trust. This fear has crippled innumerable believers, relationships, families, churches…and it has crippled me as I’ve tried to crawl out of the skin that the deceitful hands have clothed me in.

I have shied away from forgiveness, I have cringed at the threshold of healing, I have collapsed in panic at the offering of grace because of this fear. The Deceiver has used this cloak to keep me from seeing the dramatically real Image that God has placed of Himself in the Church to strengthen His people, and to keep me from the marvelous joy of being so mercifully understood.

In our individualistic Western world today, Satan has become the Wild Dog of the House of God, instilling this fear to divide Christ’s Church and then to conquer the weak and alone, just as the packs of hounds on the African Plains. He attacks and we hardly notice the subtle separation within the house of God – and so disintegrates the spirit of relationship after relationship, family after family, church after church…until fear of trust leaves us grasping for something to keep us from falling apart.

But I declare right now: this fear does not belong in the life of a believer, in the love of a relationship, nor in the heart of a church.

Yet we cleave to this fear in our hearts, telling our fellow believers that we are well off while we maintain inside of ourselves that we are so uniquely diseased with unholiness. . .

I have liked to believe that the righteousness of the Church will be found in the reputations of the believers and that if I can keep my pain silent and tucked within me, I will have my part in Christ’s marriage to His Bride. But He in His audacity declared the prostitute who was spurned to the street as pure and not condemned! and offered to the immoral woman at the well His Living Water! There is no mistaking it, that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” and that when we let down our guard before Him and speak honestly we see our sin condemned in our flesh so that we might be found righteous before our God (Romans 8:1-4). Because, you see, only when we acknowledge our state of utter helplessness will the hope that is found in Christ Jesus become an incomparable treasure.

So I find myself helpless if not for the saving help of Christ; I find myself dead if not for His generous life; I find myself weak if not for the immeasurable strength and authority of Heaven, showering mercies upon my head, by day and by night, until my cup overflows and I am overwhelmed. This is eternal life, the hope that is found only in the One who calls Himself “Love.”

Yet, if my life’s truest hope is found in Him, then how is it that the fear of human honesty is still let to paralyze me within the Church? — God has placed His Image in this Church, and there is no member that hangs limp in the Body of the I Am.

As if I am the only believer who bears the weight of humanity; as if God can show me grace, but those whom He has called His Image cannot; as if, as if……and there are certainly those who will scoff at our bodies laid bare and hurt us as they do, intending to divide our holy family (Jude 1:17-19), but they shall not stop us, for it is upon their own heads that their words will fall.

But those who join hands beneath the all-surpassing hope that is Christ’s eternal life will find that humanity weighs down on us all, though grace will keep our posture strong, and will lift our heads, and guide us all to the fulfillment of the Lord’s calling for His Church, and to incalculable salvation.

We look, we sing, we pray each day that God would offer us just a reflection of His face so that our faith might be strengthened by His glory. . .but don’t you see? His very countenance is given as the blessing of the Church. Together we are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith (Jude 1:20-23). We are to encourage one another each day (1 Thessalonians 5:11), we are to forgive one another (2 Corinthians 2:5-11), and we are to love one another with a love so rich that the Image of Christ will be unmistakable in the Body of Believers (John 13:34,35). You will find this Christ, hauntingly alive, in the faces of His children all together.

*     *     *

[the woman who I am honored to call my partner blessed me with this joy one night as she spoke to me so gently]

She looks into me through the borrowed eyes of God, with lenses commanding only the light which warrants her deepest care to pass through. All the rest scatters and perishes in obscurity, as she pledges to me, “I forgive you.”

I am not clean by history, but by definition, for: beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. My gracious God calls me nothing else but pure and renewed, and by His same gaze, my lady can perceive no spot or stain on me. Her eyes are beautiful, not for the beauty that I see in them, but for the beauty that they see in me. By this, she puts on the colors of grace — the embracing Image of God.

So I am filled with joy through such a worshipful proclamation of forgiveness. For joy is not found in our own understanding, but in being understood.

[And I learned more about grace in those quiet and painful hours of ripping fear from my chest than I could have learned in years of grasping to it. And through this grace of God, — through this Image so hopefully reflected — I was able to see a humbling glimpse of the rich and healing face of God.]

*     *     *

a word from the writer:

Thank you so much to my buddy Ryan for giving me the chance to share some words on here, it is really an honor to partner with him in this art of honest writing. He is doing some truly remarkable work through this blog, touching so many people – myself certainly included. A great deal of thanks goes to you as well for taking the time to read this post. It really means a ton to me, and I sure hope that you can glean from my words whatever sort of wisdom God’s trying to share here.

I’d love to hear from you and hear any thoughts you have on this subject, or any other like it, so please feel free to comment away, or shoot an email my way at:

rock4life9693@aim.com

I’m really not much of a writer, but you can follow this link to grab some free music from my album that I put out this past winter.  I hope to be doing some more recording over the upcoming months, so if you’d like to know what’s new, we can definitely keep in touch over Facebook.

And, if I may be so bold as to share another two links with you, I’ve really gotta give you these. My two sisters, Sarah and Victoria, are the real writers in my family, and they’ve got some beautifully honest stories, experiences, and words of wisdom to share, and I’ve been so blessed by their works.

*     *     *

God is so endlessly good.

Tariq

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