Live Where You Fear to Live
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Image management. If you’re in full-time Christian ministry like me, you learn it pretty quickly. “Don’t let them see you sweat” and all that jazz. And it works for a while, until you realize that everyone else is pretending, just like you. No one has it all together, but some of us can keep the illusion going a little bit longer than the others.
Have you ever read those “Christian Heroes” books designed for elementary-aged children? Usually the books focus on the life of a missionary in some far away land. They paint a rosy picture about the Christian hero’s service to God, but the thing about those books is they gloss over all the fears, doubts and frustrations of those very real, very human and very sinful people. It’s no wonder we grow up thinking that the normative Christian life is one where we flit from mountain top to mountain top and never spend any time at all in the valley. So we work as hard as we can to measure up to be what we in fact can never be: a Christian hero.
I think all of that effort to be the perfect Christian is just a way for us to hide. It’s so much easier for us to follow a script than to follow Jesus. It’s so much easier to believe that we are accepted when we do acceptable things. I am again and again drawn to the story of Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden in Genesis 3.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” – Genesis 3:7-10 (ESV)
“…I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Can’t you just hear the note of tearful desperation in Adam’s voice? I can, because I’ve been there. Naked and unacceptable, and so desperately wanting to be “okay”. So we start putting on those fig leaves. Bible studies, nursery duty, a good attitude when we don’t feel it at all—it’s a way for us to hide the unacceptable parts of ourselves. But if by grace through faith you’ve been drawn into the loving embrace of Jesus, you don’t have to hide.
Let me repeat that: You no longer have to cover up your insecurities with service; you no longer have to hide. Why? Because Jesus has clothed you with His righteousness as God clothed Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:21). And He doesn’t just promise them temporary relief from their nakedness. He promises them a Savior who will crush the head of their enemy and finally and fully defeat sin. If God has accepted us for Jesus’ sake, we don’t have to hide those unacceptable parts of ourselves anymore, because they are covered with a righteousness that doesn’t depend on us, a righteousness we receive by faith (Philippians 3:9).
But can I confess something: even though I know I have that righteousness, I still get scared of my own nakedness and my hands itch to reach out for those fig leaves. It’s scary to believe that I am loved and accepted and cannot mess this Christian life up. Because I feel like I mess it up all the time. But Jesus, He’s committed to me. He’s committed to bringing me safely home. So I’m free. Free to bask in the glorious freedom that belongs to God’s children.
Glorious freedom is scary because it doesn’t depend on you at all. Rather, it depends on Someone whose track record is much better than ours, the One who is the true hero of our story, and Someone we can trust to do what He said He’s going to do (because He’s never failed): conform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). It’s a guarantee. So forget the safety of your fig leaves and come and dance.
This post was written by Jeanne Hulme.