Sunday, October 7, 2007
An Open Book
Mother Teresa said, “We are all pencils in the hand of God.” This is an inspiration to me as a writer and as a minister of reconciliation. If I am a willing instrument in His hand, He will write a story that is worth reading. Mother Teresa’s life story exemplified this willingness to surrender to the will of the Father as she lived a life of service with a smile on her lips. Shortly after she moved on from this world, her diaries were opened and the inner life of this woman of God was revealed. Some were shocked to see that a saintly woman would have doubts and fears.
Does this new information change our view of Mother Teresa? In one sense, these discoveries are heartening news because it shows that doubts and fear are not foreign in the life of a disciple of Christ. It is encouraging and comforting to know that Mother Teresa followed God despite inner struggles and her life shows how to be faithful while at the same time being honest with God about life’s questions. Opening the books on her life was enlightening and the imperfections found there only glorified God more. When her humanity was revealed, God’s grace was magnified!
So, is your life an open book? Would people be shocked to know your struggles or are you willing to share from your weaknesses? Is it valuable to be so open and if so, why?
1. Authenticity is discipleship, because true discipleship flows from relationships. For example Paul, Silas and Timothy ministered to the Thessalonians not only with words, but with their lives. “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” We can offer some teaching without relationship, but the real changes occur in hearts when lives are interconnected. I must be vulnerable about the way God has taught me in order to speak the same truth to another.
2. Authenticity allows Christ to shine through our lives. “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3) Paul is speaking here about the changes made in lives because of the gospel and the letter that the Spirit is writing on our hearts. Imagine that - Christ is signing His name on every page of your life and His signature is blood red. Will you and I open the pages He has signed for others to see? Or will we hide behind the cover of the book?
3. Authenticity puts God in His rightful place. When I am honest about my failings as a human, God’s grace and mercy in my life are on display. If, instead, I put forth my best face always in the hopes that others will see my “holiness,” then the focus is on my works and God’s work is in the background. Paul said it this way: “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. ..For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
What is it that keeps us from being real with each other? We are afraid of the consequences of such honesty: people may judge, criticize or misunderstand us. Satan wants us to remain in isolation from each other and that's where secrecy will keep us. But even Jesus dealt with misunderstanding and criticism because he did not follow the hypocrisy of the religious leaders at that time. Honesty may not be the easiest path to take, but it is the truest path of Christianity.
God is calling me to boast in my weaknesses that others might see His power and grace moving so beautifully in my life. I have to be willing to keep the book open because it’s not really about me after all, is it? This book called my life is all about Him, all about HIS grace, all about HIS power to transform, and all about HIS love. That’s why I’m willing to keep the book open – others won’t see His signature there unless I open the book.