I'm exhaling as I start to type because I can't push too far into this right now, but wanted to visit it for a moment regardless.
I had a revelation today as it relates to loving teenagers who
come to church or go anywhere in public "half neked".
What do you do?
I was talking with some friends on Tribe TV. We didn't have time to really plunge into the topic very deep but something occurred to me as I was thinking out loud with them on the topic of modesty.
We have to forgive each other.
Two weeks ago, Reggie Joiner said something in a training session our youth ministry team was attending together (Orange Tour) "Have you ever tried to have fun with someone you haven't forgiven?" (Flashbacks to sister fights and kid tantrums right before we walk into Disney world, irky arguments about who said what and when about a problem that is long and gone...can. i. get. a. witness?)
This question is a good one because it reveals whether or not we have forgiven someone. Can you have fun with your co-worker? Your former boss? Your in-laws? Your out-laws? The people who walk into your church. The ones that you just met?
It's impossible to have fun, let alone smile at someone when we're peeved, disturbed, mad, rude, denying, avoiding, etc.
We may be avoiding the ones we are called to love.
We can forgive the nakedness when it walks in the door.
Because we are naked too.
Forgiveness flows back and forth, and I'm certain that a smile is gift that crushes the floodgates.
Think about this.
She may not know that she is worth something.
He may not realize how valuable he really is.
She may not have had the upbringing that helped her walk and dress with dignity.
He may not realize that his abs are showing.
They may not know Jesus yet.
Heaping piles of forgiveness are required--both ways.
Someday...one day, we may know him or her long enough and well enough to show her what the value that we have in Christ and she'll get it. Someday...one day, he will know us long enough and well enough to show us the reactions to behaviors, the words we fail to commit to Christ before saying, he will point out the places where we are growing too, and we'll get it. We'll change.
I think we will be changed together.
Because none of us can claim to have arrived in this. We are all still reigning in lack of modesty in our eating habits, our time commitments, our digital exposure, our money spending, our money hoarding, our sport watching, our people devouring, our obsessive pinning and perfecting, our music listening, our "we deserve this so forget about everyone else" choices, our pride...we're allergic to all of this craziness but drawn to it when still operating as if we were still owned by sin.
But we are not.
And we don't need to be.
I so want Christ to become greater than all of this in my life. I sooooo love that we aren't alone as we, as wounded people, meet the wounded healer.
It starts with love.
Love is super hard to pass it out when we're mad.
And it's really tough if we have no idea how to smile.
If we're driven by fear and motivated by insecurity, we can forget it, we won't
be the person God uses to reveal unconditional love to people who haven't experienced or recognized it yet.
We, as leaders, we have standards, and we should.
We model them in LOVE.
We have to celebrate when nakedness feels safe enough to come by here!
Jesus wasn't put off by the adulterer or the immodest. He knew their names and spoke with gentleness and care, he said this was you, but this another less thirsty life can be yours if you trust in me.
We have to believe that nakedness entering our doors is a sign that we are doing something right.
Nakedness reaches out.
To the hem of a Jewish garment.
Even in public, where others can see.
It reaches for healing.
We can't be afraid that it will consume us.
God gives us what we need for such a time as this.
While we put up guardrails to protect us and each other.
We continue the journey forward, into the future where Jesus also lives.
So what do we do when nakedness enters the room?
We smile and ask, "what is your name? My name is...."
Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Mother Teresa
Luke 8:30 *
Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?"
And he said, "Legion," for many demons had entered him.
* I love this story because Jesus begins to recover this mans worth. He reminds him that he is human, that there's a human name under the one he has taken on. He begins to untangle him from the lies with one careful and loving question. "What is your name?"