When Truth Meets Love

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“You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’

And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”

Rev. 3:17, NLT

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If you would come to me and speak this boldly, I’d run you off.  “You have no right speaking to me in this way!”  Our personal relationships are essentially based on “boundaries.”  My continuing friendship with you is based to a large degree on your respecting these social rules and restrictions. We look to social protocol to guide us.

God is the only one we would allow to speak to us so boldly and directly (and even then it’s still unwelcome).

Self-sufficiency has become the specific goal of the speaker, it is how he measures a respectable Christian life.  Respectability however, is a disturbing development for simple believers.  “I don’t need a thing.”  Within our hearts there is a hunger to be independent.  Self-sufficiency and pride are disturbing thought processes for simple disciples.

There is a delusion that is quite prevalent– we may feel that we have arrived.  We finally are capable of something important.  We have done all the necessary things, we have jumped through all the hoops, and have “made it.”  It somehow feels like we have accelerated the sanctification process.  Much of this comes from a feeling of being ‘spiritually exceptional.’

Jesus is confrontive.  He will not diminish the truth, to spare our feelings.  I think that that is quite remarkable.  We esteem and value honesty, but when it is focused on us it seems difficult.

“You don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

None of these five words would we use to describe ourselves. Let’s consider them anyway:

  1. wretched– terrible, very bad
  2. miserable– unhappy, depressed
  3. poor– lacking sufficient resources
  4. blind– sightless, without vision
  5. naked– bare, without covering

These five words that describe the “real” position of the believer in pride.  These five words dismantle us, stripping us of our lies.  We have evaluated ourselves and discovered that we must be exceptional believers. (Perhaps my innate specialness is true after all!)

Twenty years ago my wife and I took an evaluation for placement in a language school.  I assumed I was quite exceptional, but two hours later I was told that I failed the test and would be assigned to the lowest level for the rest of the semester.  I was shocked!  And my dear wife, was put into the highest. What a blow to my pride!

“We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ.”

Eph. 4:15

He reaches out to us because He loves us profoundly.  It is a love that is not based on any kind moral performance.  However, it is quite necessary for us to step into the piercing light, and an intense desire to enter reality.  It is difficult for us to slough off the lies, and to understand what is true.  Trust me, Jesus speaks nothing but the truth, and He loves us while He does it.

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About Barnacles and Masks

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‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS , 
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM  ME .”

Matthew 15:8, NASB

“Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.”  C.S. Lewis

This singular verse is set in a series of other verses– it certainly does not stand alone.  When these come together, we realize how much the Holy Spirit despises hypocrisy. He hates it, I suppose, because of the destructiveness wreaked on our spirits.

A father or mother may feel a hatred at the dealers who sell the drugs to their child. It’s not that they have any special animosity toward the pusher, but rather, they love their son so much. They will do whatever it takes to protect him.

I really think this is what Jesus feels when it comes to the purveyors of religious legalism, or hypocrisy. He burns with a holy hatred against this particular form of darkness. His vehemence seems reserved, not for sin so much as these lies of “religious pretending”. His repeated “roughness” has to be considered– why?

This should jar us into what is real, and all that is not. The word for hypocrite is “two-faced”. It was used in the Greek theaters for the masks worn by the actors. They would wear whatever the script called for. The audience never knew what was real, and what was only theatrical props.

With our lips (speech) we will honor God. We’ll only speak good things, and words (and actions) become an issue of being appropriate. We put on the particular mask of the moment, and enter the theater. Our hearts are hardly touched, and the deepest part of us becomes inoculated to the real presence of God.

The deep hatred Jesus has is due to the enormity of this sin. It is spirituality gone bad. Twisted and confused, with the shallow veneer of “respectability”. It seems to work for many of us. When our discipleship gets used to wearing masks, things can get very religious.

One last thought. Ships and boats often have to go into dry dock to be scraped clean. Weeds and barnacles can actually cover the hulls; they can severely impede the ships function. Periodic inspection is needed. Jesus wants us to be truly clean.

“Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.”

Charles Spurgeon

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ybic, Bryan

Bryan.Lowe1@live