Over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the reasons Christians can come across as condescending or hypocritical is because we don’t want to share the dark parts of our testimony. The struggles with alcohol, drugs, addiction, mental health, anxiety, depression… The parts where we don’t have it all together.
But we can’t glorify Jesus unless we are willing to talk about what He’s delivered us from. Instead of preaching, “You need to fix this in your life,” we have to start with, “I’ve been there.” We have to make it personal. We have to be real and transparent with each other if we want to earn the right to speak into each other’s lives.
Early in our marriage, this quickly became my husband’s least favorite phrase. In the middle of an argument, he would tell me that I was misunderstanding what he was trying to say and I would respond with, “So what you’re saying is I’m stupid?”
We live in a world that leaves scars. We fight an enemy that leaves scars.
Sometimes our scars hold us back from the things we want to do and the people we want to be. It’s like we aren’t sure we are really whole.
Wholeness isn’t something we can see, and maybe we’re a little like Thomas. He said, “I want to see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands.” Maybe we’re holding our scars up to Jesus, saying, “I don’t see the healing! I want to be who you need me to be and do what you’ve called me to do—but what about these?”
Jesus answered Thomas the same way He answers us. With His scars.
In Leviticus, one of the main themes was the idea of clean vs unclean. Leviticus 11-15 used to overwhelm me with all of the lists of clean and unclean animals, illnesses, and discharges. For the most part, in this context, being clean or unclean directly related to holiness, and it was often something that was determined by priests. To be unclean meant that you had no access to God. No one could approach God in an unclean state. God is and was holy, so anything that came into His presence also needed to be holy.
Reading through the Old Testament several years ago, I remember being so confused by what felt like a bipolar God. In Exodus, He responded to the Israelites grumblings in the wilderness with grace over and over again. Then suddenly in Numbers, He responded to the exact same grumblings with curses and serpents. Did He just run out of patience with them? Did He decide after the golden calf that they weren’t good enough for His grace anymore? Did His grace for me also have limits?