Tuesday, June 23, 2015

WEAK AND UNAFRAID

 
 
Years ago I was thinking about the scripture in Hebrew 4:15 that states: For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

I had a question for Yeshua regarding that verse, and His answer was a life-changing one for me.

I was thinking about how I feel when people accuse me of doing wrong. I knew Yeshua was to be my example in terms of my response. But when I read in the scriptures of how he handled situations like that,  I saw that He always seemed so unmoved by criticism and the judgments of people. Sometimes he would ask them a pointed question that would put them to shame; sometimes He would deliver a sharp rebuke; other times He would simply walk away. But, it never seems He (unlike me) responded from a place of feeling defensive. He never reacted angrily out of hurt feelings or a wounded soul. So I asked him a question:

Lord? When people point their fingers at me and criticize me, if they aren't 100 percent correct about what they are accusing me of, they may very well be some percentage correct. But when people accused You, Yeshua, You were able to think to yourself, 'They're wrong. I never sin. I never make a mistake.' And you could respond to them from that place of confidence in your own perfection. But I'm not perfect! I can't do that! So how could you have been tempted in the same way I am when people accuse me of doing wrong?”

The answer He gave me was so profound that, after all these years later, I'm still only just beginning to digest it. But, it has challenged me in the way I walk ever since I heard it.
This is what He told me:

Nancy, when people accused me of doing wrong, my confidence didn't lie in the fact that I was perfect, but in the fact that I wasn't afraid of my own weaknesses in front of other men.”

Think about that for a moment. Take it in. He wasn't afraid of His own weaknesses in front of other men. He wasn't afraid of His own weaknesses in front of other men! He wasn't afraid of His own weaknesses in front of other men? Can you imagine that? Take time to try to. What would that look like in your life? What would that feel like?

Oh, what freedom there would be in having that attitude! If I could just take that position in my heart and soul!  A fearlessness regarding my weaknesses; a nonchalant attitude about being discovered and seen for who I really am.  To live without the constant need to defend myself, explain myself, justify myself to those who don't understand or support me. To live a transparent and uncovered life before those who have proven they are not patient with my weaknesses and are quick to judge and criticize me. Seriously, take a moment to imagine what that would feel like. Do you sense the resistance in your soul to it? I do. Just the thought of it makes me feel naked...and ashamed.

I was reading a book recently that spoke of Yeshua's mission as being one of restoring our relationship with the Father to what Adam and Eve had with Him in the Garden before they sinned. Before they sinned, we are told in Genesis 2:25, they were both naked, but not ashamed. After they sinned, the first thing they noticed  was that they were naked; and the first thing they did in response to the knowledge of their nakedness was to try to fashion coverings for themselves.  As we read in Genesis3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
They even hid from God out of fear because of their nakedness, as we are told in Genesis 3:9 & 10: Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Unfortunately, that is our natural response when we realize our own sinful state;  we try to fashion our own coverings and hide ourselves. Those coverings can be made up of our gifts and talents, our anger, our physical beauty, our strength, our pride, our success, our material belongings, our own image and how we project it, our intellect, even our  "spirituality". They are all our own attempt at remedying the fear of being exposed.

But God had a different remedy, even for Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:21 we are told God clothed them with the skins of animals.  Now we know that in order for them to be covered with animal skins, the lives of animals had to be sacrificed. So, from the very beginning we find the loss of a living thing's life is necessary to cover sin and nakedness. And in that sacrifice we begin to see a picture of the work of Yeshua in dealing with our sin on the tree.  He hung  there naked and exposed to humiliation and, as we are told in 2 Cor. 5:21"For God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." He actually became the embodiment of our sin, then let Himself be destroyed on the cross so our sin would be destroyed with Him. Yeshua's sacrifice accomplished much more than just covering our sin. It made us righteous. 
 
In Hebrews 10:14 we are told: “For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

That means in God's eyes I am perfect because of the blood of Yeshua and the sacrifice He made on my behalf. But, I am still being made holy. My being made perfect allows me to come boldly before His throne of grace to receive grace and mercy in my time of need. My being made holy is the process I go through as I allow that grace to do its work in my life.
 
I know I don't have to tell you that this process of “being made holy” isn't easy. It's a dying to the flesh daily and allowing the Sword of His Word to cut where it has to in order to prune what doesn't bear good fruit in my life. It's also allowing the Holy Spirit to comfort me even as His fire is painfully burning away the  chaff in my life. Yet, it is in the midst of this difficult process, so often done in the sight of others, that I am called to remember I am "perfect" in God's eyes, even while Messiah's character is being "formed in me". As Rav Shaul said to the Galatians who were trying to appear holy in man's eyes instead of standing confidently in the grace of God, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Messiah is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)

God sees me as perfect. Men don't. God sees my weaknesses and has compassion for me. Very often men see my weaknesses and are impatient and critical of me. And I desire to not be afraid of that fact.  I desire to walk as my Master walked.  He was unafraid of His own weaknesses in front of other men. When He was publicly scorned, rejected, mocked, betrayed, beaten, crucified, stripped of his robe, in other words naked and weak  before men, He was not ashamed. In fact, we are told in Hebrews 12:2 “for the joy set before Him He endured the cross, despising it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I would like to be like Him. It would be the most courageous way to walk through this world and this life—unafraid of my own weaknesses in front of other men. And for the joy set before me—that is Him and my eternal hope in Him—I desire to be able to despise the shame rather than so magnify it that I am consumed with trying to appease it and keep it at bay.

We are told in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Messiah Yeshua, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Therefore as it is written: “Let everyone who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

My prayer for myself and all of us who are His children is that we could let go of what we use to cover our own nakedness and allow His blood and righteousness to be the only covering we have, the only thing of which we “boast”.  When  Rav Shaul cried out to God to be delivered of a thorn in his flesh, he was told by God that His grace was sufficient for him and that His power was made perfect in his weakness. Rather than being dismayed by that answer, Rav Shaul's response in 2 Cor. 12:9 & 10  was one that I hope to someday be able to join him in saying: “Therefore I will all the more gladly boast about my weaknesses, so that Messiah's power may rest on me. That is why, For Messiah's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong!”

Til next time, shalom!

1 comment:

  1. Critique brings reflection. Jesus took sin upon himself. He bore our burden until death out of obedience to God. God declared this work of his Son salvation for the many. When ego grabs power and honor for self, things get dangerous and dysfunctional quickly. When spiritually immature people come into power lookout!
    Many distract and divert questions and truths to avoid pain. Disagree and critique when it is in anothers' best spiritual interest!
    We can read words-nothing is like hearing words read by a living voice. Conscience is a voice Troubling, illuminating, soul-changing, reassuring. In Scripture Jesus compares himself to a shepherd and us as his sheep. The sheep hear his voice as the shepherd calls them by name.
    The Bible is Gods' voice. He communicates personally, directly, powerfully and with moral purpose. God knows OUR voice! We by nature are ordered to God. We are born to hear him. This is why the Bible has such compelling power. This is why we respond when the word of God is announced clearly to us. This ancient peculiar puzzling text has compelling power! Today voices compete for attention - tv, computers, games, Iphones, academic degrees, environmental noise, - none are The Voice - they are theives and robbers. Hear the voice of Christ through Scripturs, through conscience. Guilt can be conscience speaking to us. The shepherd of our souls is not a God who makes arbitrary demands from on high - Jesus has walked our walk even to the point o dying our death. Whatever struggles we face he has faced whatever path we must walk - he has walked. In the letter to the Hebrews he was tempted in every way but never fell into sin. That is a voice to listen to and to follow! A suffering serveant of Isaiha - now recognized as Jesus; it is in sinlessness that IS the key to His effectiveness. What makes him the great high priest? He endures suffering without sin. His lovingly born suffering liberates us! He takes pain on himself like a patient mother and takes it away.
    The Holy Spirit lead the Lord into the dessert to be tempted by the devil. This is a Holy time not punishment. The Holy Spirit lead Jesus and will lead us into temptation. We learn a great deal about ourselves when we are tried and tested. Before He launches into public life He will be pushed by the Holy Spirit to the limits. He will feel the deepest temptations we all feel. Temptations to be drawn away from the true source of life. To be distracted from our mission. What is our mission? It is the same as Jesus since we all participate in Him. To be a conduit of divine love to the world. To be a means by which Gods love surges into His creation. Its ALWAYS the mission.
    One of the devils temptations was that he would give Jesus all worldly power if Jesus were simply to follow him. At the heart of all worldly power is accusation and division. Look around! Hhuman society governance is a form of these twin moves. If Jesus had given into this he would not have been a conduit of Love and Grace. He would instead be a low level power broker.
    You shall worship the Lord your God. He alone you will serve.
    The devil tried to manipulate God instead of becoming Gods' serveant. All of us sinners are at risk. We often try to turn ourselves into God by expecting the world to revolve around "me" and "my needs" - even God will serve me. Jesus resists this... You shall not put the Lord your God to the test. God uses you for His purposes. You don't test God, God tests you. You don't manipulate God, God uses you for his purposes. If you want to be a conduit of divine Lovethe last thing you can do is turn yourself into God. He resisted all temptations and now he is ready.
    The devil left Jesus "for a time". The devil returned again and again. He will return to tempt us as well- and each time it offers opportunity to continue to discover truths about ourselves. Through Gods' Mercy and Grace may we walk with Jesus and resist temptation again and again. God Bless

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