Why are so many of the ladies in drug rehab I’m blessed to know so successful? Their counseling and instruction is based on the Word of God. In many ways, the women there are much like a church family. They eat, study, pray, cry, laugh, fuss, confess, worship, and commune together. They develop deep friendships with some and get on the last nerves of others. But the one thing that impresses me most about these women is that each of them knows they have a weakness. They not only admit it, but they are also willing to do something about it. Their honesty draws me to them.
Sometimes, the women who show up for help must first be introduced to Jesus. Other times, they are already saved but need to hear more reasons for falling deeply in love with God. Once they buy in to the Spirit’s refining process, they exchange their sad eyes for bright ones; their sullen attitudes for pleasant ones; and their frowns for big, beautiful smiles.
I believe the same is true for the world we live in. Some need us to tell them who Jesus is, while others need to be reminded of His power. All need to hear about our past and present struggles and how God has been and is fighting for us. More than anything, they need us to be honest. Honesty draws people to us so that we can point them to Jesus. They need to hear that while their sins and ours are still warm, Jesus whispers, “I still love you, but this is not good for you.” God’s Spirit convicts, but it never condemns. It tells us when we’ve messed up, but then teaches us how to make things right.
There are many things I love about my church family, but two of them delight and amaze me most. First, it is not uncommon to see two or three people huddled together in the lobby, aisle, or restroom praying for each other. Struggles are readily admitted and prayed over immediately. Unashamedly. With no hesitation.
Second, our small groups encourage honesty and provide help. Whether it’s a Freedom group, book study, or one centered around a common activity, everyone’s issues and difficult days are met with practical acts of service and prayer. Honest. Open. Helpful.
Rest assured, Satan will rise up in the hearts of those who fear giving up their own wills. They will make fun of and criticize the things they don’t understand. When the church gets honest with God, themselves, and each other, Satan’s arrows of hypocrisy, judgement, shame, depression, and pretentiousness fall to the ground. That’s exactly when the bewildered world stares wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the forgiveness, unity, and love of those willing to lay aside their own agendas for the good of another – even for those who criticize and make fun. While their mouths are hung open, let’s pop something good-tasting into them. Let them taste and see the goodness of the Lord!
“Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out. Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”James 5:13-16, The Message