"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also the sins of the world. —I John 1:5, I John 2:1-2 (NIV)
If almost everybody agrees that we need authentic community, why is it so rare?
Why is it that so often when we want to be connectors, we end up being pretenders?
The answer of course is fear. It is natural to fear hurt and rejection.
To be connected we must be vulnerable. To be vulnerable we risk being hurt. We all want to know that we are safe before we are vulnerable. The problem is we won’t know we are safe until we are vulnerable. Though it can hurt to be vulnerable, ultimately, we will hurt more if we’re not.
Today, we want to learn that living a life of connection requires brave honesty.
“If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son, purifies us from all sin…”
Some important truths that can help us confront our fears of authenticity
1. People would much rather connect with someone who is always real than someone who is always right.
We admire people for their strengths and success, but we connect most easily with people at points of weakness, failure, and struggle.
2. Disguises we wear keep us from the intimacy and connection we need.
People can be very popular and very unconnected.
3. Often the breakthroughs, revivals, and loveolutions in our families, marriages, churches, and community don’t start with trying to show people how good we are but often start by admitting how wrong we’ve been.
“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 5:16 (MSG)
Ways confessing faults, sins, and struggles help make us one
1. By breaking down the walls of self-righteousness and pride, giving us a true identity. We are people who are worthy not because what we have done but because of what Jesus did.
2. It defeats Satan’s plan to shame and isolate us. It exalts Jesus and shames the devil.
3. It lifts hidden, heavy yokes of trying to uphold an image of false expectations.
4. It frees us from loneliness in our struggle, opens channels to receive grace and experiences unity at the foot of the cross.
Victorious Christians aren’t sharp and shiny; they are broken and real, easy to feel safe with.
Steps to going from a pretender to an honest connector
A. Come bravely, to be honest with God in the light of His love. Allow His love to cast out fear.
“In this…, love is completed and perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment…; because as He is, so are we in this world.” (The standing Jesus has before God is the standing, we can have because of Jesus). “There is no fear in love…. But perfect… love drives out fear, because fear involves (the expectation of divine) punishment. Those who fear have not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love. We love because he first loved us.”
— I John 4:17-19 (AMP)
The more we connect with God’s love on the inside, the easier it is to love on the outside.
Truths of grace that can help us know God’s love in the face of our sins, flaws, issues, weaknesses, and limitations:
1. God loves us unconditionally just because we’re His.
2. Our standing before Him can be based on what Jesus did for us.
3. God doesn’t look down on us because of our weaknesses, flaws, and failures. He draws near to us at those points and chooses to show us how He plans to use what is weak about us to show us and the world what is so great about Him.
“But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” ‘So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment-when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ-I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (TPT)
B. Three ways God uses our weaknesses and struggles for our good and His glory
1. They remind us to rely on God not ourselves. We learn the advantage of not trying to be strong but depending on God to be strong on our behalf.
2. We become humbled when we’re successful instead of proud.
3. Discover how we need each other and become closer as we share things that are hard and empathize together.
“Weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice.”
— Rom. 12:15
C. We become a connector by admitting our sins and struggles not only to God but to other safe friends. We move our relationships into the “God zone” by coming to the light. Covering up darkness keeps us unconnected, opening up connects us.
“A sin is anything that prevents us from giving God or other people the love that God wants us to show them. Sin is what makes us less safe to partner with and less able to show God’s kindness.”
We become safer and safer as we not only admit wrong but are intentionally accountable for growth and change.
D. We become connectors by reaching out to one another to help each other experience grace and reconnection when we struggle or fail.
“If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:23 NIV)
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” — Galatians 6:1 (NIV)