How many of us allow ourselves to be truly vulnerable? Truly ourselves and perfectly exposed, bad side and all? Probably not many. I don’t.
For most of my life, I was extremely guarded. I was a strange kid, and probably an even stranger teenager and young adult. I let fear of what others would think keep me from talking, or doing much of anything when people were around. That turned into full-fledged social anxiety that kept me stuck in this horrible prison. I wanted to be loved, but I was afraid of people, so there was always a nagging loneliness, self-hate, and fear. So much fear.
Then I learned about someone who would love me, even despite my worst faults. Of course, I mean Jesus. Do we ever think about that? I’m sure as Christians we do from time to time. The fact that Jesus knows all about us. All the hidden things we hide from the world. Our darkest sins and struggles. Our pains that have hardened us. He took it all and forgives it. But, there’s more.
I’m thankful that Jesus did not leave me the same broken mess he found a few years ago. If he had, I might not be here. Jesus takes our broken and dark hearts and he does something miraculous. He heals us. Little by little, the heartache from past abuse we endured, the self-harm, and the behaviors that harm others are nailed to the cross. Little by little, we are given a new heart that is resurrected from the dead. Before Jesus, I was dead inside and I wanted to be dead in the flesh. Now, I see the promise. I see life. I see a change of heart taking place that is beyond remarkable, and something that I could never have done on my own.
What should a person do once Jesus takes their broken hearts and heals it? We should invest that heart in others who are broken. I want a fully-changed heart so that I can be the heart of Jesus for the afflicted. I want to love people just where they are, despite their worst faults and all the things they hide from the world. I want to be a safe place where others can just be themselves, repent of their sins, and find support as they learn to trust in Jesus.
Could that guarded, broken—and yes, overly-critical—person be that heart for others? No. Their sins would hurt me too bad. Their jabs and hard words would cause me to retaliate and repay evil for evil. I would be consumed by their darkness. I would hate them.
You see, we cannot love people the way we should. We might love others, but we hate them also. I don’t have time or room in my life for unrighteous hate. What do I hate? I hate sin. I hate MY sin, especially. I hate the destruction that lies bring, including lies about Jesus and the gospel. However, I remember where I came from, and as Jesus continues to grow in my heart, changing my heart into his. Something wonderful happens.
All the pain, all the suffering of this life, is used for good. It’s used for compassion, empathy, and to show those who are brokenhearted that Jesus is alive and he can free them from the most desperate of pains and sins, no matter how large.
This is the Christian calling. Jesus calls us to him—the broken and afflicted, and he loves us just where we are. He is merciful and he forgives us. He then sends his Holy Spirit to live within these broken hearts, and we begin transformation. We heal. We bring forth fruits of the Spirit. We learn what love means, and how to patiently love others. How to live in peace and trust in the Lord. We learn mercy, kindness, and temperance. Our hearts become the very heart of Jesus Christ.
Then, we go out into this dark world, gentle as doves and wise as serpents. We go to the afflicted, knowing they will hate us. But, with the Full Armour of God, we push on anyway. We endure through the ninety-nine who hate us just to find that one lost sheep who will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and be fruitful in it. We support them as they grow until Christ is formed in them. Jesus heals them, and he takes the things they learned from their past sins and afflictions and puts it to work for the healing of others.
We are forgiven. We become a living temple for the Spirit of God. We are healed. We are transformed into the likeness of Christ. We become the children of God. We then should do like Jesus does and reach out to the lost, giving up our lives for the good of others. We have to continue in this faith. We have to be fruitful. We have to believe the whole gospel, and if we are truly called according to the purposes of our Creator, we will.
I’m not spending anymore time fretting myself over those who do not want to believe in the whole gospel and message of Jesus Christ. I’m reaching out for that one in one-hundred who hear, who are broken, and who need a safe place where it is okay to be vulnerable. Where it is okay to be just where you are, to admit all your sin, and seek Jesus for forgiveness and all that follows.
If you’re ready to stop fighting yourself and wrestling with the Lord, and instead embrace not just where you are, but where you are going, I’m here to help in any way that I can. No harsh judgment or condemnation. But, there needs to be honesty. If we seek Jesus sincerely, he will cause you to face the things you’d rather hide from him and the world. You will face your sin. You will hate it. You will be tempted to turn and run when the fire gets hot. That’s when I will help you.
I’ve been through it, and I’m still going through it. The process of dying and being raised from the dead hurts. But, Jesus did this for us first, and all things pertaining to our salvation come from him. He will complete this work in all of us, and he sends people along the way to help carry the cross for us. Let me help you carry yours.