Oh goodness. The title for this last week of study just gets right to the heart of it, doesn’t it?
Chasing “a little bit better”…
How often do I reach for a little bit better when God offers me life abundant?
Why do I do it? Why do I eat the crumbs that fall from the table, taking in a little measly morsel of grace when I go to church, and another measly morsel when I converse with a friend, another measly morsel when I finally, finally apologize after lashing out at my husband?
I refuse isolation in this. I know it’s not just me. So many of us are yoked to chasing just a tiny bit better – feeling better, talking better, acting better-
when God wants restoration for us, instead of better.
Galatians 6:1 ties Galatians 5 and 6 together. Read Galatians 5:22-6:2 as one continuous passage:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
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. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
The fruit of the Spirit may as well be Christ living in me to reach out to you and vice versa.
Can you imagine? God does not tell us to reach out to all the put-together people, all the people who live well and walk well in the faith. He tells us, through Paul here, to reach our hand in and offer help to the hurting, to call out sin where it lives, in you and in me, to be honest, when it’s hard and it hurts, but to bear it together.
Sharing our sin, our disgrace openly, within true community and actual care, is I believe the most powerful weapon we have to combat Satan in our current cultural context.
Our culture says, “Shame on you.”
Christ says, “I restore.”
Our culture says, “You can do better.”
Christ says, “I did it all.”
Our culture says, “Don’t let them see your darkness.”
Christ says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.”
We bring that light to each other. We carry the Word out and into a world so deeply in need, chasing just a tiny bit better and losing.
The oft left unquoted Word from John 17:15 says,
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
It’s a prayer from Christ Himself over each one of us. We’re quick to quote the next verse:
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
A little bit better feels a lot like God letting us keep our junk to ourselves, keeping us from humiliation, keeping us from the embarrassing stain of our own sin, but He has a bolder, bigger plan:
Reveal it, so I can heal it.
(Ok, I didn’t intend for that to rhyme. )
Christ prayed for us to remain in the world because He knows that a little bit better doesn’t heal – it only patches. Revealing our pain and struggle, revealing where we have fallen short and mess it all up – that not only leads to our restoration, but it also begins the process of restoration for another.
Can we do it? Can we share some secret shame, so that another can find some bright and glorious restoration?
We can’t cast our pearls before swine. We can’t be transparent where there is no relationship, we don’t bare the burden of sin, the weight of sin with people who would take it and trash it underfoot, but in relationship it’s worth the risk.
Paul states in Galatians 6:1 “watch yourselves…” We don’t want to be tempted and thrown into someone else’s drama of sin, but he doesn’t tell us not to risk it. Christ’s solution to this in John 17 is the Word. If we are going to help another through their shame of sin, we bring the Word in genuine care and concern and we wrap it in our own humility of sin and the restoration we have received from Christ Jesus.
It’s so much better than a little bit better…
It’s life together.
It’s Redemption before our eyes.
It’s Him at work in you and me, and between you and me.
It’s remarkable grace.
Can we be done chasing a little bit better…together? I’ll share with you and you share with me. We’ll bear the weight of sin together, confess together, proclaim forgiveness over one another and experience the fresh and utterly weightless mercy of our Savior…together.
When have you gotten burnt in a “relationship” that wasn’t as solid as you thought?
How does Christ’s restoration differ from making things a little bit better?
What in your life right now would you like a little bit better, that we could pray with you for restoration instead?