Sometimes I feel like I am not an open enough person. Some of you will scoff at that, but sometimes I really feel like it. The reason being is because maybe if I were more open about the ways I am screwed up, people wouldn’t seem to get this weirdo idea that I’m perfect. But, the truth is, I relate way too much to Peter in Acts 10, when Cornelius falls at his feet in worship and Peter is forced to pull him up and say “Stand up; I too am a man.”
When you’re a missionary, or even a youth minister, it seems as if that label is synonymous with “perfect.” I can’t tell you how many times people have apologized for cursing around me, or making an off-color joke, as if I am the Cuss Word Police and they are about to be read their rights and lead away to the prison I am apparently collecting people for.
I feel I sometimes have missed out on being a listening ear to brokenness because of peoples’ fear of being lead away to that imaginary jail. I am thankful in part for their feelings of conviction, because conviction is from God and brings you towards him, but shame is not, and it takes you away from Him. It makes you hide. Shame says that you aren’t worth being loved. That you in and of yourself are worthless because of what you’ve done. So many people are walking around under that burden, unable to come to Jesus with it, much less other people. I hate when people don’t feel like they can come to me because 1. I am a HUGE sinner and no better than that and 2. All over the gospels Jesus put himself directly in the path of people burdened with shame so that He could love them and tell them how much they were worth. He put himself on the cross for that same reason. What will it take for us to believe Him? He spent his life and death PROVING IT.
There are so many times when I admit I have done the same. I, too, have made many idols. I wanted love so badly that I looked for it from other people. I spit in the face of my Creator. I found counterfeit loves, and they never loved me back; I was never satisfied. I could never seem to get what I wanted. Out of desperation I went to Jesus and laid it all out on the table for once. All my mess. But he didn’t run. If you run away from Jesus, in Romans 1 Paul doesn’t spare strong language to tell us where that path leads.
God INVENTED love. He created us FOR him. I imagine when Peter was pulling Cornelius up he was thinking, “Man, if you only knew. If you only knew how badly I will fail to live up to your expectations. Don’t go down that road, bro.” I bet he knew from experience, too. And I bet he also knew Love, the kind of love we were created for. And he wanted that for Cornelius. And I want that for us.