One of the biggest disappointments of Christianity has been its penchant to create an environment wherein people do not feel comfortable being who they are. We’ve become masters of wearing masks, not because we’re inherently fake and phony people, but because we haven’t felt safe enough within our congregations to be nakedly authentic.
As a result, most Christians have never experienced the pure rapture of being able to worship God within the community of faith without leaving any part of the self hidden or suppressed. To be able to bring our entire selves into the worship encounter, leaving nothing behind, whether things people wouldn’t like, or even things God wouldn’t like, is a weird and amazing thing. You see, God knows us–all of us–yet He still invites us into His divine presence. But it’s Christians–broken, faulty and frail Christians–who deem certain parts of people undesirable, and somehow sacrilegious to bring into the worship encounter.
We’ve got to repent of this error. It has prevented God’s people from allowing themselves to be known. Yes, God has an intellectual knowledge of us. He knows who we are; and yet, how many times in the Bible did God say that He doesn’t know certain people? The knowledge that He’s after isn’t an awareness, but an intimate knowledge that only comes through intercourse. As sexual intercourse allows people of the flesh to know each other (as Adam knew Eve), so spiritual intercourse (a worshipful engagement wherein we come into union with God) allows us to know God, and for God to know us.
Think about that for a moment. It is, in so many ways, the fault of the Church that God doesn’t know His people. Why? Because we’ve conditioned people to hide themselves. Just as Adam and Eve hid themselves in the Garden, so we hide ourselves in the Garden of worship, in an effort to only show God our best parts, keeping everything else covered up. But whatever we cover, we don’t bring freely into our intercourse with God. Whatever we hide, we don’t allow the light of God’s love to shine on. How do the dark places receive the light when we leave them as far away from that Light as we can?
I’ve even heard it in the church–“leave your cares behind… leave it at the door before you come into God’s presence.” Bunk! Bring it all. Bring your hurts, your pains, your frustrations, your anger, your sin, your disgusting thoughts… Bring it all. Let it all fly close to the flame of God’s presence so that He, the consuming fire, can burn it away. That’s how transformation happens–by exposing our whole selves to God, not by hiding the bad parts.
Clearly then, I’m hungry. I’m so hungry for God’s people to bring their whole selves into the worship encounter, not just during private devotion, but also and especially within the community of faith. And yet, it is not my own hunger that I speak of in the title. God hungers for our whole selves even more than we do! He so wants us to return to the innocent nakedness of Eden that He died to provide the means for us to experience His presence with our whole selves (the veil was ripped). And what did we do in response? We put the veil back up! We let religion, and self-righteousness, and fear prevent us from walking out the full benefits extended at Calvary.
Let us repent–change our thinking–so that we can come to know the blessing of offering our whole selves to God in worship, leaving nothing behind. May the Church become and faithfully remain the place where this type of nakedness can be expected, respected, and honored. May we never betray that nakedness with judgment, scorn, and criticism, but see it as a true expression of holiness. Holiness? It’s holy to bring what is unholy in God’s presence? Absolutely! Under the Old Covenant, the holy was made unholy by the unholy; but the witness of the New Covenant is the opposite–that which is unholy is made holy in proximity to the holy. You are more holy by bringing your whole self into God’s presence, leaving nothing behind. Let that be your aim going forward!