8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (NIV)
Our fellowship together as Christians requires openness and vulnerability. Openness is me revealing to you my heart, my dreams, my disappointments, my sadness and my joys. It is me showing you my inward life, so that perhaps you can understand me better. Vulnerability is me opening my arms to you, inviting you to come in to my embrace. There’s always a risk in that, as the Prodigal Father knew (Luke 15) – my open arms and my invitation are not a grabbing at you and a forcing of you into my clutches, but an invitation that you are free to decline, even to reject. Still, the more open and vulnerable I am with you, and the more open and vulnerable you are with me, the stronger our fellowship may become.
But there are times when I am fooling myself when I think I am being open and vulnerable to you. Sometimes I hear words coming out of my mouth like “I’m only human” or “well, that’s who I am.” Most of the time I hear them not with tones of sadness, tears and Godly contrition but with tones more like defiance, even pride. Since I use them when I’m being defensive, I know they are bricks in the wall I build between us, not true efforts at fellowship. And yet I fool myself into thinking that I’m being humble or honest or open with you, when I’m really daring you to storm the wall from your side.
When I do that with God, He is ready to open His inviting, grace-filled arms to pour out His patient and faithful love over my rebellion and invite me back into His embrace, to be warmed and welcomed at His heart. But there are a number of reasons why I still stand off to the side and tell Him I’m fine without that embrace – pride, self-protection, stubbornness and more. Nevertheless He patiently waits for me to come to my senses and take Him up at His invitation, knowing that I will not regret it in the end.
And if I am open and vulnerable with you, and you with me, will we regret it in the end? If we show our hearts to each other, and open our arms to embrace each other, will we regret the fellowship that may result? Or will we fall into that fellowship the way the Prodigal Son fell into the Prodigal Father’s arms, clinging to that love and welcome for all he was worth? I think the latter. And this kind of fellowship that we have with one another, modeled as it is after the fellowship we have with our Prodigal Father, will strengthen us both as we face the trials and troubles of the world.
Will you take my hand?
God bless us everyone!