So, let's say one of your friends comes up to you, accompanied by a complete stranger. Your friend is chipper and jolly, and basically wants to introduce you to this new person. I'll illustrate the conversation to you . . . .
"Hey! I'd like you to meet my new friend . . . Guy. I was thinking he could hang out with us sometimes- he's a pretty neat man. He told me he's very fluent in sneakiness, and he's great at deceiving people. He's dishonest, and he's usually very lazy.
He lies, he gossips, and he's probably prejudiced against you right now. He's gets jealous of people easily, and he often entertains unwholesome thoughts. He has a short temper, he's impatient, hateful, selfish, proud, and rebellious. He always thinks bad thoughts about others. He gets annoyed easily, and is exclusive to those he doesn't like.
He enjoys seeing others' pain, and is unforgiving. He's a greedy, lying hypocrite, and lives to seek revenge. He searches for sin in other people, and cheats all the time. He's uncommitted, rude to everyone, judgmental, a show-off, forgetful, fake, and a procrastinating quitter.
He's a failure, a put-down, and definitely unworthy of any form of goodness. He steals, and often, he compares himself with others. He's rude, an idolater, and can be a people-pleaser.
He's definitely a coward, but boasts about himself anyways. He teases, he's mean, he wastes time, he's lustful, he's bitter, he's unloving, he's dirty, he's abusive.
He's not really into helping people, and he tends to stay away from defending the defenceless and weak. He generally avoids reading his Bible, and doesn't often pray. He doesn't compliment people, because he's afraid it might lower his own self-esteem, but he may occasionally put someone down instead. He neglects to love people properly, and sometimes resorts to fighting instead of keeping peace. His hobbies include: holding grudges, avoiding people, and denying God.
I asked him about his future, and he told me that he is definitely a potential murderer, drug addict, and adulterer- but he's not too sure about those yet, they're only possibilities."
. . . . What would you say if someone introduced a person like that to you? I'm not sure if I'd be able to stand and listen to the whole thing- I'd suddenly become very paranoid of his every movement, every word, every act. I wouldn't feel safe anywhere near him, and would probably think my friend insane to go near him!
Plot twist: that person is actually me.
Now, before you call the police and ditch me as a friend, maybe take time to go through all those descriptions of... "Me." Perhaps you'll realize... it describes you, too. Though I used all those adjectives in a present-tense form, that doesn't mean I am abusive all the time, for example. I literally have a paper in front of me, on which I wrote down every single sin I could think of, that I had done. I've been proud. I've lied. I've been jealous. I've been exclusive. I've been judgmental. I've been selfish. I've done all of those things in my life, and there are things that I haven't done that I should have. Also, I included some potential sins that I have no intention of doing- but still possible.
When I meet someone new, and they ask me to tell them about themselves, my introduction is nowhere close to that! It'll probably look more like, "Hi, my name is Karis. I'm in tenth grade, and I go to a Christian school. I dance a LOT, and I love participating in children ministry at my church, and ministry through drama. I love music- I play the piano and the trombone." Obviously, that sounds a little cheesy- but you get the point. I would definitely not list for them any sins that I am guilty of, even though, chances are, they are guilty of the very same ones.
Generally, we don't like people to see our bad side- it offends people, and can certainly push them away. I've just sort of been grappling with this issue lately. Is it prideful to cover up our sins in front of others, and only let them see our 'flawless' side? I know it's expected behaviour- it's definitely frowned upon to go flaunting your sins to everyone you meet. Something I've been reminded of, though- that's what we do to God.
Think about it. We know full well that he's watching. We can't just introduce our good side to Him, he sees right through our flimsy shield of good works, to the blackness inside. Even though we may be fully conscious of that, we continue to parade around, turning back to the very same sins that are holding us from a relationship with Him, and consider it okay. Nobody else can see us, just God . . . and for some reason we don't find that frightening.
We should, though. We find it so embarrassing if another sinful human being finds out we've been doing something wrong, even though they are no more righteous than us. But when God sees every little thing wrong with us, and He is perfect, we're okay with that. We know He is all-loving, forgiving, and full of mercy. He's full of the stuff we desperately need, but take for granted, anyways.
I believe we have it totally backwards! Instead of being ashamed to show our bad side to our fellow human friends, we should be open about it. We should be making ourselves vulnerable, so that we don't 'think of ourselves more highly than we ought to.' (Romans 12:3) We could be keeping each other accountable. We could be fighting the battle against sin together, rather than single-handed! Does that not sound comforting? We know that we are in a sinful world, filled with sinful people just like us. Why are we pretending that we're perfect? It's a.) a lie, and b.) making everything harder.
Before I leave this topic for the moment and allow you to go think about it, I have just one more thing to add. Remember that introduction at the beginning? Let's imagine that you are that person so full of sin, and the person that is introducing you is Jesus. Jesus is introducing you to God, the Ultimate Judge. He runs through the list of every sin you've ever committed, much like what was written at the beginning. In fact, maybe it's almost word for word, except for one thing is added. Right at the end. He says, "__________ is also officially clean." You stagger in disbelief. What was Jesus saying? He continues. "__________ is my friend, and I have paid for all his sin."
1 Peter 1:13-16 ~
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
So, instead of being introduced as, "___________, liar, cheater, murderer, adulterer, idolater, and lazy thief," you are introduced as, "___________, holy friend of Jesus, child of the Almighty God."
Taking one last look at that list at the beginning that describes me, and replacing it with "Holy friend of Jesus, child of the Almighty God . . . ." That's amazing. Completely amazing.
So, instead of the automatic human response of backing away from that totally sinful person, the perfect, blameless God who has every right to reject me, is the only One who actually begs for my friendship. And loves me just the same.
Yes, we may have been united by our sin, which helps us identify and help each other out of it. However, we are now united IN Christ, who has freed those of us who believe! We can't keep this to ourselves, guys. He changed me from that huge list of grossness into one of purity, and perfection. It's the best gift anyone could ever be given.
To be known as a friend of God.
Romans 5:7-8 ~
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.