“If we say that we have fellowship with God while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true.” ~1 John 1:6 (NRSV).
The true Christian is not so much pious as they are honest before God—guilty as charged, and to most, if not all, the crimes of the morality code. Looking God in the eye is almost certainly impossible if we cannot contemplate and, therefore, own our sin.
The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth
The greatest glory for the Christian person is in knowing they will keep on sinning despite their will not to. Without such a hopeless situation there would be no need for a Saviour. We need saving not once, but for a lifetime.
There is freedom in such truth. Suddenly all of the pressure is relieved, not that we lose interest in doing the best we can, but we can live with ourselves in the midst of our mistakes, misjudgements and misdemeanours.
Our imperfections don’t characterise us as much as the perfection of Christ does. Grace has the final say, and with our commitment to truth—to know we all are sinners; the worst kind, even ‘the best’ of people—we underscore what is undeniably near from what should be impossibly far. The Spirit of God is near.
The Integrity of Honesty – God’s Greatest Gift
The alluring state of personal and interpersonal transparency is a blindingly fresh advance on the disposition of virtue. Nothing can touch it for value. We are never a better brother or mother or spouse or companion or work colleague than when integrity grips us.
The prerequisite of knowledge of our sin gets us there. Suddenly, we expect less from people and we are more honest about our capacity for failing.
The greatest gift, however, is not the ability to please other people—blessing them that they can trust us to boot—but it’s the condition of pleasing God that is most in view. We know we can look God in the eye when we are able to look at ourselves, deeply, and not shrink from the shrinkable things that impinge on us.
There is no shame in knowing that we are far from perfect, faulty, even broken human beings.
The Ticket to Salvation – The Cost: Authenticity
No human being can be comfortable in their own skin unless they acknowledge their guilt and, transferring that more personally, their shame. How are we able to look others or ourselves in the eye if we cannot honestly look God in the eye?
The Lord doesn’t want us feeling onerously guilty; the point of grace is to ameliorate how we feel and to facilitate the impossible, which is to settle a score that could never really be settled without God.
Our sin will get in the way if we won’t deal with it. Dealing with it means we’re being honest about it, anticipating and avoiding it if we can, making restitution whenever possible, and knowing God’s abundant forgiveness at all times.
God wants us to be able to look him in the eye. Honesty is the requirement; to know we are guilty as charged, yet pardoned as eternally innocent. There is no shame in being honest.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.