Saturday night we got to hear a testimony from a new friend we've found in our Saturday night shepherding group at church. First I must say that this shepherding group has been a refreshing change. The goal of the group is to put our faith in action and tell people about the love of Jesus. It's been so nice to focus on others rather than our own personal growth, parenting skills, or marriage relationship. Even though all these are very important, I believe God's design for us is to be in a community of believers who are others focused and concerned about eternal matters, yet support each other in the personal matters. Anyway, one tradition they have is beginning the group time with a testimony from someone within the group. Whoever wants to volunteer shares a little bit about their life before Christ, how they became a Christian, their life after Christ, and what God is doing in their lives currently.
Last night a single man from the group shared his life story. He set a powerful tone in speaking very honestly about his childhood growing up without his father and the impact of missing out on all those father/son experiences that every young boy is designed for. I remembered reading some of Andrew's "Wild At Heart" book years ago and thinking how devastating it would be to have the leadership in that area missing. No one stepped in for this young man; no mentors, no teachers, no Sunday School teachers or youth leaders, no one filled that gap. He went on to share of his later struggle with homosexuality. As he open himself up like book, an amazing thing happened, the man who was confessing his weakness, even some of his failures, quickly became the most powerful man in the room, not because of what he'd done or who he was, but because of the power of Jesus Christ in his life. His honesty took away the power that Satan could have had in his life. No longer could Satan say to him "You are unacceptable" or "No one will like you." He chose to test Satan's lies, and test the truth of Jesus that tells him he is wonderfully made and deeply loved. God met him through several men who came along side him as true friends. Though they didn't understand his temptations they had temptations of their own. These men shared that his honesty paved the way for them to become more vulnerable with those different struggles in their own lives and becoming more vulnerable unleashed the power of God. No longer did their temptations have to be battled alone, so when Satan whispered his confusing lies there were several others ready to shout the truth. It's the perfect picture of the how God designed the body of Christ, the church, to operate.
Though specific sin is different in everyone's life, Jesus died for all of it. It isn't easy to lay your "ugliness" out in front of other people, but this man led the way for all of us to begin to question Satan's lies, to remember we're not the only one who have had failure, and to experience the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers us. His example inspired me to "keep the mask off" of my life and allow others to know my struggles in order to display the greatness of Christ.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.