The following post is from: Jen Broad, President of the Women’s Council.
1 John 1: 5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
In The Great Divorce, CS Lewis writes of a ghost in his imagined heaven who is fleeing while looking over her shoulder as if she is being pursued. Lewis describes this ghost as “a well-dressed woman…but its shadows of finery looked ghastly in the morning light.” When an angel encourages this ghost to join him and become “solid” like him in the light and truth of heaven’s Savior over her own false-worthiness, we read the following exchange, led by the retreating female ghost:
“But they’ll see me”
“What does it matter if they do?”
“I’d rather die.”
“But you’ve died already. There’s no good trying to go back to that.”
“But I tell you, they’ll see me.”
“An hour hence and you will not care. A day hence and you will laugh at it. Don’t you remember on earth — there were things too hot to touch with your finger but you could drink them all right? Shame is like that. If you will accept it — if you will drink the cup to the bottom — you will find it very nourishing: but try to do anything else with it and it scalds.”
Just like the ghost in Lewis’ story, just like Adam and Eve in the garden, we often hide instead of walking in the light of obedience, repentance, and freedom in Christ. We are continuously tempted away from believing the promises of our faithful God and toward believing in our own visible idols that we dress up as temporary saviors or cling to to help numb our shame. We hide in so many things, good things, that we pervert. Reputation, fashion, food, wealth, friends, technology, fitness, and family are but a few examples. We can often misuse these blessings to hide ourselves so that we do not have to think about what we truly look like in the crosshairs of the curse. The shame that we hide away scalds us deep within while we don’t even notice its wounding effects. When we cling to false saviors, we are robbed of our fellowship with our heavenly Father and fellowship in truth with one another.
In the midst of our absolute imperfection, we hear the resounding “BUT GOD!” which is the very thing that begs us to confess our sin and be cleansed from our unrighteousness. Ephesians 2:4, 5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.” I love that this verse says, “made us alive together with Christ.” We’ve heard it hundreds of times, but please tell me again: The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead pursues each of us ferociously to overcome our sin and to give us that same LIFE; the enduring, neverending spiritual and eventually physical Life of our Savior. Our salvation is in Him together with all of the saints. Our salvation is a salvation away from isolation and fully into the arms of our Father and the community of believers who have been brought to life by this amazing work of our covenant God.
Romans 5:1-5 greatly informs my understanding of the concept of repentance. In these verses we are called to “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,” and then Paul leads us through a beautiful progression: We rejoice in our sufferings “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” That very hope that we are called to rejoice in at the beginning of Paul’s argument is a God-given result of our suffering, our endurance, our character, all which are gifts from Him. The process of finding true hope does not put us to shame, therefore we have the freedom to stare our suffering and sin in the face and proclaim Jesus’ work on our behalf.
How can we as believers stand before God in fellowship, in light and in truth without looking fully into the darkness of our own hearts against the blinding backdrop of His Light? We have the freedom to fall before Him and confess our sin knowing that “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We are robed in HIS majesty. Unlike the ghost in Lewis’ imagined Heaven, we need not fret in the shame of our translucent, weak and meager state. We are all the same in that. As I wrestle with my own sin and walk with others who are in battle, I remember John’s words in Revelation that our robes are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. Oh, why, then do I so often try to muddy my robe in my own prideful mechanisms when I am in truth washed perfectly in His blood?
As I pray for our church and the women of our church, I pray that the LORD will be faithful to bless us with true fellowship and community with one another, because of His faithfulness to teach us all to walk in the light, according to 1 John 1:5-10. We have been given His Word through which we can and should know Him. I hope that we can encourage one another as we grow in understanding of the character of our covenant God. I pray that He will be faithful to shine light on the areas in our lives where we do deceive ourselves about our own sin, and that we will be given the gift of repentance and the true knowledge of freedom in our Savior Jesus Christ.