gross comes before growth

If there was a Hillsong United fan page on facebook (one probably already exists), than I would peg a fair amount of people reading this to join it. Now, I’m not saying that is a bad thing. I personally think they have some great songs that bring fresh concepts to worship music. However, what if you could only join the fan page because you enjoyed living out the messages and issues in their songs, as opposed to just liking their music? How many of you would join the fan page under those circumstances?

Let me be the first to say that I would not join it. For those of you who may have raised an eyebrow at my confession, I would ask you to consider the following thoughts.

“Inside Out” is a worship song most of you are probably familiar with, and it’s a great song. Despite that catchy tune with capturing lyrics, the song is actually pretty disgusting; in fact, I think it’s just gross. Why you ask? It wouldn’t take a genius to convey how gross it would be to turn the human body inside out. BUT, I suggest to you that this song (and overall concept) suggests exactly that. No, of course not literally, I’m just fulfilling my quota for blog shock value.

I recently skimmed through the book Inside Out by Larry Crabb. Crabb seems to present a tactful, pointed argument against the medicinal approach many churches take regarding common spiritual disciplines (i.e. reading the Bible daily, prayer life, sharing testimony and fellowship in community, etc.). Don’t get me wrong, these things are great. I encourage you to do these things and more, but I think Crabb’s prerequisite is exceedingly crucial.  You have to turn yourself inside out, and learn how to deal and live with yourself first. That includes ACCEPTING yourself. I’m not talking about trying to justify the things you know to be wrong or degrading. I’m talking about the characteristics and emotional junk that causes you to have a poor image of yourself. Christ accepted you for everything you were, are, and ever will become…so why can’t you join your OWN fan page?

There are a few answers I could give, but I choose….the plague of shallowness rooted in terrifying, confusing fear. Difficulty, in my opinion, can never be appropriately described when it comes to facing the horrid and revolting truths which fundamentally speak to our imperfect lives. Perhaps there are some who may not have issues in their life they consider to be despicable, but then I wonder how much they actually examine themselves in the context of human depravity. A professor told me that depravity means not being able to take one step towards God. I’m not sure how he meant that, but I know Romans 3:23 as well as the next guy…so now what?

Well, I’ll tell you that I will not now give you a fire and brimstone ultimatum. What I will do is challenge you to be gross. Disgusting. Horrid. When you do so, don’t look away. If we want to be healthy in at least one aspect of our lives, let alone multiple, we have to learn to start acting and intently living from the inside out. We have to recognize that investing yourself in community means learning to accept yourself, no one else can accept you FOR you. When Jesus said to deny yourself, he wasn’t calling you to ignore yourself. Every single person who ignores their own junk, while “selflessly” placing others and their needs first fits that whitewashed tomb metaphor. Yeah, the one that we love to join in with Jesus on when he slams those Pharisees who are nothing like us. Am I wrong?

Just because you aren’t decimating others under the intense expectation that comes with the 600+ commands of the Law doesn’t mean you get a “Get out of Free Hypocrisy” card. In fact, this isn’t even stereotypical hypocrisy…this is dangerous hypocrisy. Genuine relationship comes from dealing with your own hindrances and struggles, and not just taking the Daily Devotional pill to try and solve it. Sure, God can choose to speak to you through those avenues. However, don’t use them as you would pills for a headache. More often than not, using the mentioned disciplines to “fix your problem” can be compared to starring at the Tylenol pill to ease your pain. It just won’t do the job.

What is the bottom line to this border-line midnight rant? Don’t leave an artificial taste in the mouths of those you care about regarding your genuine intentions of relationship. Don’t voice your issues for pity or self-recognition, and don’t sulk over not having them fixed overnight. Don’t be afraid to live in the tension…following Jesus is the epitome of organized chaos. You have to be gross before you can grow.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

-Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

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