When we talk about being a people who are honest with ourselves and about ourselves, we, as Christians, ought to be leading the way on that. We, as Christians, ought to be the first ones to confess our shortcomings, to apologize for our failures, and to pledge out loud to do better.
For we, as Christians, know the goodness of grace.
You see, we, alone, have a God who knows that we are not who He created us to be, but loves us anyway. We have a God who holds us to account for the things that we can do better and continually calls us to them, without condemnation. We have a God who, when we fall our knees before Him, lifts us up. We have a God who has made us a new creation when our old one has betrayed us. We have a God who loves us so deeply that He is constantly rooting for us, no matter how we're playing right now.
And the goodness of our God ought to give us the courage and the confidence to admit when we have some growing to do.
Unfortunately, the opposite is too often true: we are too often afraid to admit any failure or weakness or insecurity because we think that it reflects poorly on our God. How could we call ourselves Christians if we cannot do the most basic things that God calls us to do? How can we continue to call ourselves Christians if we don't love one another well, if we aren't the first to extend mercy, if we cannot find it in our hearts to forgive? We do not want to make it seem, to a watching world, like God is not all that He's cracked up to be, and so we have created a narrative of Christianity where the best way that we can demonstrate God's love is by being perfect in it.
But that's far from the truth. How is the watching world ever supposed to know God's love if His people are not standing in need of it every day? How are they supposed to know His goodness if we are good enough on our own?
The best way that we witness God's goodness to a watching world is not by being perfect, but by being perfected. By letting God work in our lives in the ways that He needs to, and by confessing our need for Him. Confessing those places where we're not getting it right. Humbly submitting ourselves to Him again and again in repentance, in honest acknowledgment of who we really are - a people in need of the very grace we are called to give others.
The truth about our God is that He doesn't love us for who we might be tomorrow; He loves us for who we are today, when we submit our lives to Him. When we have hearts turned toward Him. God isn't waiting to love you and bless you and shower you with grace when you finally become someone He can be proud of; He loves you, and He's proud of you, in your becoming. He didn't just love Israel when she settled in Canaan; He loved her in Egypt and all the way through the wilderness. That's the kind of God He is.
And if that's the kind of God He is, then we need not be afraid - of God or of the world - to be honest about who we are. It is only when we are authentic in our human experience that we can have a divine encounter. It is only when we are real about who we are that we can get real about who He is - in our own lives and as a witness to the watching world.
This world is aching for truth, a real truth that they can hang their hats on. And that kind of truth starts in being honest - with ourselves and about ourselves and with each other. And that kind of honesty can only come with having the kind of confident assurance that our God gives us, a confident assurance of goodness and grace and love.
So, then, we must consider that our greatest gift, as Christians, to our world is not to stand up and boldly declare that we have it all right, but rather, to be the first ones willing to stand up and say that we've gotten it wrong. Let us be the first ones to stand in the kind of honesty that makes truth possible, that makes community possible. That makes love possible.
Let us be the first to stand on the kind of grace that we profess, for we know that the Lord is good and He will give it to us.