The Ugliness of Salvation

There are stories I read in scripture that provide me with a deeper understanding of God, and have helped me develop a trust in God to carry me through difficult circumstances in my life.  If you have spent any time in church, you have heard a retelling of Noah and the Ark, of Moses and the Israelites, of Daniel and the Lion’s Den, of David and Goliath, and of course of the crucifixion of Jesus.  Many people who don’t regularly attend church have heard those same stories, and even if they don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, they have received the seed of God’s greatness through the stories of His hand moving on behalf of His people.

The stories of these pillars of our faith are more than a retelling of what happened in their every day lives.  These stories are more than a group of people who chose to be obedient.  Their stories do not convey that every time they set their hand to something that God would clear away every obstacle and grant them immediate victory without effort.  These stories provide real accounts of how God showed up in the midst of tragedy, in the midst of trials, in the midst of hopelessness and helplessness.  In the form of a boat, a staff, a lion, a stone and a cross God exposed their stories … He wrote their testimonies.

Where would our faith be today without the brave men and women who came before us and recorded what God has done in and through them.  What would the church look like today if Paul hadn’t exposed the ugliness of his life before he met Christ on the road to Damascus.  What hope would we have in salvation if the ugliness of the suffering of Jesus was whitewashed and we only shared the beauty of the resurrection and left out the brutality of his abuse.  It’s important to tell everything.

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.  At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?”  Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

Acts 9:19-22

I was recently talking with a friend, and we were seeking God and sharing exactly where we are at in our own lives.  We were being brutally honest about our struggles, our fears, our shortcomings, and through all of it we were sharing what God is teaching us and where He is encouraging us right here and now.  The testimony of God’s greatness cannot be confined to the pages of scripture.  His creation and His authority  began long before the scripture “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” was ever written.  God is still in the mode of performing miracles.  He is still providing people with the foresight that the flood is coming.  He is still sending out prophets that will lead His people out of oppression and to the promised land.  He is still shutting the mouths of lions forbidding them from devouring those who are faithful to Him.  He still empowers us to stand up to giants.  He still resurrects that which is dead.

We have nothing that we can offer God to repay Him for the miracles in our lives.  But we can; and should; offer the truth of our testimony to others to glorify Him and to offer thanksgiving for what God has done and what He continues to do in our lives.  Do not allow yourselves to take up shame and as a result hide from sharing where you have come from.  Do not allow yourselves to respond in fear of what others may think of you because of past choices and mistakes. Do not ignore the ugliness of what brought you to your knees.  Instead, share what you were openly without hesitation or regret, and glorify God through your honesty.  We weren’t clean when God came to us, and we shouldn’t pretend that we were.

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