It is so important that as Christians and as the church we are being transparent. In a world full of the enemies lies, a word full of comparison, it’s so easy to believe that we are alone in our struggles. The enemy singles us out and makes us believe we are the only ones who doubt, that everyone is more “righteous”, more “holy”, more “perfect”. He makes us believe other people don’t lose their cool, don’t ever miss church, don’t scream at their kids, don’t lie, don’t ever say an ugly word when they stub their toe, (Only me? Ok. ) don’t ever gossip, and don’t ever have too much wine, Ice cream, or coffee in one sitting (Really? Still only me? Ok.) #thestruggleisreal. We think no one else struggles with their past, with guilt, with shame, with doubting God’s plans, anxiety, depression, singleness, insecurity, self-worth, alcoholism, addictions. I have probably struggled, and continue to struggle with many or all of these. We see other Christians and we see them as “righteous” but look at ourselves and see a person who can’t get it together. Someone who’s life is a mess.

When we are not transparent, we also become unapproachable, because other people would never think we are going through the same struggles as them.  Our struggles also stop us from sharing our story, and we rob people of the good news that could transform their life. Why?  Because we know we aren’t perfect and we feel the need to be cleaned up before we can share with other people. But the thing is, we will never be “cleaned up” enough. We will never be at the perfect time in our life, because God is constantly writing our story and working within us, transforming and renewing us day by day.(2 Corinthians 4:16) There is a quote I once heard a friend use in a sermon by David Platt, “Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell”. That phrase has stuck with me ever since. We owe people our story. In Romans 1:14-15, in Paul’s letter to the Romans he describes himself as being “obligated” or some versions describe it as “in debt” to unbelievers. The bible tells the story of Paul, who was one of the worst persecutors of Christians, until one day his life was so dramatically transformed in such a way that he not only felt the “need” to share the gospel but he describes himself as being “obligated” or “in debt” to do it, & Paul was far from being perfect. God never expected us to be perfect or to try to reach perfection in order to share our story. I for one am so glad God doesn’t see what I see when He looks at me. I’m glad that his blood covers me and that when he does see me I am righteous in his eyes. (Romans 3:22)

Now, I’m not saying because we are saved we get to just go on a sinning spree because God forgives us anyway. I once saw a quote that said “God’s grace is not an excuse to sin; rather it is a reason to love and serve him more fully”.  I completely agree with this. Just because we know he is graceful, and merciful towards us, and because we know he forgives us, is not a reason or excuse to sin. That’s not repentance. What I’m saying is that people sometimes hold Christians (or we hold ourselves) up to impossible standards, and when we don’t meet those standards we feel defeated, and that gives avenue for the enemy to bring in guilt, and shame, instead of repentance and forgiveness through victory that is already ours through Jesus Christ. (1st Corinthians 15:57) I have heard testimonies of people who have been saved who used to be addicts, or had really horrible things in their life and as soon as they got saved they never once did it again or even thought about doing it again. I think that is an amazing testimony to the power of what Jesus Christ can do in someone’s life. And if I sat here and said that the minute I got saved I never once struggled again with any addictions, or doubt, or insecurities, then I would be only lying. I’m not saying God doesn’t have the power to remove those things in my life, but a testimony that I am still human living in a fallen world. I would love to tell you that ever since I got saved I haven’t been tempted or struggled to be the person God wants me to be, but that is not the case. It hasn’t been an easy journey. There have been times on this journey where I have questioned my faith, doubted God’s plans and future for my life, made really bad decisions, had regrets, fallen,  I’ve strayed, took a wrong turn, sometimes I take several steps back and I end up on a different road, but every single time His love redeems me and brings me back.

God tells us that as long as we are in this life we will have trouble, but he also tells us to take heart, because He has already overcome the world. (John 16:33) Now, I don’t know if I’m the only one who does this, but when I mess up, instead of clinging to God, instead of surrendering my weaknesses to him I kind of do what I did when I was a teenager with my parents when I knew I had disappointed them. I would walk in the house really quietly trying to avoid them. Instead of running to them, asking for help, instead of saying I’m sorry, for fear of being rejected and punished, I would distance myself. Paul Washer makes an amazing point in one of his sermons about “weaknesses” (video below), “We sin a sin that we’ve already sinned and have already repented of and we put ourselves in a penalty box, and then we think we have to earn our way into favor before we come to God again. If we go back and ask for forgiveness and expect to be forgiven isn’t that hypocrisy? Isn’t that a low view of God? Isn’t that treating God like a forgiveness machine? No. It’s being biblical. That’s what poverty of spirit is supposed to do.” Romans 8:1 tells us: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So no matter where we are in our journey, whether we are starting out, or we are still a  work in progress, whether we feel like we have things we need to work on, or still struggle with bad habits, our story will never be finished while we are still in this world. So don’t think twice about sharing your story. Your story is powerful, it is a testimony of God’s power, it is evidence of transformation, of redemption, and it is a beautiful story of forgiveness. There is someone out there that needs to hear it, no matter how “messed up” you think you still are. And if you find yourself in that distant place after taking a wrong turn, don’t ever think you’ve gone too far to where God can’t reach you. There is no such place. There is no such thing. He is with us, and He loves us. Despite where we were yesterday, where we are today, where we will be tomorrow. His love for us never changes. Nothing we can do, nothing we can say, no path too dark, nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ. (Romans 8:38-39)

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for Salvation to everyone who believes”- Romans 1:16 ❤

 

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