I looked at her troubled face as our toddlers played on the floor. She sat on the love seat, eyes downcast. Life was not kind, her marriage was a mess, her little girl had sudden life-threatening health issues and it was all crashing down at once. Our conversation had turned to faith and I tried to gently encourage her to pursue a walk with Christ. From what she was telling me, it seemed she had an infant faith tucked deep in her heart that had been covered by layers of hurt and doubt and fear. Her shoulders hung in defeat.
“Unless I can come to him naked, unashamed and free, then I feel I can’t do it. I can’t go to church or try to be a Christian.”
It has been over a decade, yet I still remember that check in my spirit as the lie tumbled from her lips.
This is what I told her, and it is what I tell you if you are believing the same lie…
If you are waiting to have it all together before coming to Christ, then it will never happen. He, alone, is in the business of restoration. Never does he ask us to clean up before entering his family. No, quite the opposite. The Jesus who whispers your name is the same one who ate with sinners and tax collectors, who walked along the road with prostitutes and protected the adulterous woman. He welcomed them and then, only then, did the process of “cleaning up” begin. (Romans 5:6)
It is so important to understand the cleaning up only happened because of the new life they had been given. Because they had been redeemed and set free, given a new name and a new identity in Christ, they could walk out who they were because who they were had completely and forever changed. (Romans 6:7)
There is a saying that always made me smile…
We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.
When I read this through the lens of faith and in the context of the struggle to overcome habitual sin it takes on new life. How often do we believe the lie that we need to “get it together” before gracing the doors of a church or even kneeling in prayer? The enemy whispers that lie and makes it sound so logical…of course God can’t be around sin. He will want nothing to do with us if we are filthy. But Jesus…
Yes, Jesus is the game changer. Jesus took on my filth and it was crucified with him. Therefore I only need to come. When I am weak, guess what?
HE is strong.
He has given us the Church, his body. I may be a right hand, you may be a left. Your friend may be a foot, your daughter may be an ear. Separately we are a mess. We may not have it all together, but together we have it all. If I drop what my right hand carries, your left hand picks it up. If my foot stumbles, you hear and call the left hand to reach down and lift me out of the mud. God never intended us to walk alone, to trudge through life and constantly try to clean up our own messes. He has given us the Kingdom, his family, a community that together represents the body of Christ.
You may begin your Christian walk not knowing the difference between Abraham and King David. You may have no idea where to find their stories in the Bible. You may not even own a Bible. But I do. Those of us who have walked the road you are beginning for a few years now know what you are trying to learn and they will be so happy to teach you. Many of us keep extra Bibles on hand just in case. We are still learning, but what we learn we gladly pass down because it thrills us when the light of Christ shines for the first time in a believer’s eyes and watching you learn, watching you “get it” and be transformed is addictive.
You do not have to be able to walk into a church or a community of Christians without sin. You do not have to be bare to be redeemed. You only have to come and surrender. Change happens through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you. Change happens through surrender.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18