It occurs to me that life is a great deal more messy that we would like it to be. For example; when I think about being a Christian I would like a load of nice Christian clothes to wear, a perfect outward image to portray to the world of how Jesus has transformed me into a changed person, a person who always gets it right, who reacts in the right way to everyone, who loves well, who doesn’t get jealous or envious and well, you get the picture.
But the problem is this. That image is a lie, an invention of the shiny person I want to be. Jesus didn’t die so I could put on the outer clothes of looking like a Christian. He died so I could be in relationship with Him, so He could get on with the work of transforming the inside of me. But that is messy. I get things wrong, my transformation into the likeness of Christ isn’t happening overnight, sometimes I think I’m on hold, and then discover He was teaching me some other way of being more like Him through that experience.
He works in strange ways that don’t always fit into how I would transform me. I would do it overnight, in a Matrixesque way (downloaded into the brain, Neo somehow “knows Kung-fu”). I would make it easy for me to do what I was created to do- live and breathe and love well in a relationship with my maker and my fellow created beings around me. But He wants to transform me truly, so I learn dependence on Him, so I am broken away from my pride and self transformation programmes. He wants to build belief, faith, hope and love into my life. It’s a process of a lifetime. When I stumble and fall I see failure and rubbish. He sees another situation to teach me more of the patience and grace of Himself.
The book of Judges shows the ultimate in God working through the complete mess and stupidly and horrendous sin of His people. And that’s the same God who is at work within my messes and sin. He is at work redeeming the mess. I like that. But it doesn’t look neat or perfect, it looks flawed and messy. But I like it. It’s more beautiful and hopeful to the people around us to see; that we are not people who have the answers worked out, who have a plastic exterior which allows no space for mess, questions, confusion and pain. But that we have the hope of Another in that mess. One who works through the stories of our lives; weaving in and out of the mess, redemming it, forgiving, helping, disciplining and making something beautiful that we will get to see on the last day.
I want to live that life. Forget plastic Christianity. Forget false ideas, fake prayers and “good” exteriors. I want the messy inside out transformation. I want to know grace in the mess. I want to be real about the one who is in this world transforming and weaving His grace and truth in. I want to be like the one who walked around in the mess, I want to love as he did, to be real about the questions and doubts, to be real about my relationship with him. To speak honestly of the one who sometimes feels as close as a tender whisper in my ear, and sometimes as far away as the tops of the highest mountains. To speak of the reality of a relationship with one we can’t see. But to know that reality is what we are all about. That He is real. That He is in charge of this world. That He knows you and me. That He is looking over my shoulder as I write these words. And that He will not give up on what he has started.
Forget the plastic image. I want the earthy, dirty, shining through with light reality of the risen Christ in my life, and the lives of all I meet. I want to teach that way of living, rather than a set of rules, rather than polishing up the exterior of our lives. I want to teach and live out, express and breath the reality of Jesus here on earth, of a God who is in control and of a Spirit who is living within us, producing the fruit of our lives.