This chapter presents a poignant story from Manning’s visit to a rehabilitation center, one that left me speechless. The point of the story is to evoke an emotional response, but more than that, it’s to force us to evaluate our response. Imagine if this were a Candid Camera episode where a hidden video camera recorded our reaction to the story. My initial, “you idiot!” reaction would be there to replay over and over again. Is this how we relate to those outside our sacred walls? Probably. And that, my friends, IS the problem of paste jewelry and sawdust hot dogs–fake Christians.
Until I learn to react the way the Jesus did I will still be learning to grow in grace. To use the churchy wording, I’m still going through the sanctification process. It’s sad to watch my hidden video footage because I know that it was a setup, but the reality is there to observe. Every time I judge someone from my position of higher ground I have elevated myself on some sort of holy pedestal for which I am unworthy. Worse than that, as one who often wears a title that’s associated with the church, I fail as an ambassador of Christ. James 3:1 comes to mind:
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers,
because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
Lord, help me to get rid of the mask that hides who I really am. Show me that I don’t need to put on some counterfeit image to impress anyone; that you working in me is enough. Help me to be brave enough to let my weaknesses be revealed and teach me to find unbridled joy in the wonder that You fill the gap between what I should do and what I actually do. Help me to be crazy for you like you are crazy for me! May I love unconditionally, extravagantly, without judgement.
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