External and Internal…Crap

by Susan Sampson

Well I never thought I would be told I was full of crap when I went to a Bible study! But it happened in a recent Beyond Belief lecture. But how incredibly helpful and freeing as I really try to think this through.

I completely identified when Laurie said we walk into church and look around and then immediately start cleaning up the outside with the right clothes and right purse (I would add children’s matching clothes) because on the inside we feel like crap and know we don’t measure up to what we see.

I love the group Casting Crowns. I think I have written about this song before, but it is such a vivid and helpful picture of what is happening in churches and Bible studies across America and speaks to my heart:

“Stained Glass Masquerade”

Is there anyone that fails?
Is there anyone that falls?
Am I the only one in church today
Feelin’ so small?

‘Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like every thing’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So, with a painted grin, I play the part again
So, everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain?

My sin of pride still makes me want to “tuck away” all my crap.

Very recently our church worship pastor needed the wifi password when we were getting ready to have Bible study at our home. He knows I keep it upstairs and asked if he could have it. I can’t quite remember exactly how it all went down, but I think I said I would get it and he said he would be happy to get it but knew going up through our bedroom might be seriously off limits. I quickly had to run through my mind if my bed was made and laundry put away before I would allow him access. And even more so was the thought that the password was in my computer room which is most of the time a mess. Was I going to let the worship pastor see my mess?! I let him up there, but only because I knew it wasn’t as much of a mess as it usually is.

And this of course is just the external crap. What about the internal crap? What about the ugly thoughts I have that if you all could read my mind, you might no longer read my email? What about the dark recesses of my heart?

More lines from “Stained Glass Masquerade”:

Is there anyone who’s been there?
Are there any hands to raise?
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage?

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be?

Would your arms be open?
Or would you walk away?
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay?

This is why we need discipleship! Why we need each other, the body of Christ. Why we need to ask the Lord to rescue us from our individual fish bowls.

Our flesh wants to hide and cover up both the external and internal crap.

But there is One who already knows all the crap. Inside and out. And He loves us in spite of it all. Not only that, He took all our crap away from us and carried it to the cross. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

We are free. We don’t need to hide our crap any more. Our sin has been atoned for by the Son of God. Our ransom was paid at the cross.

May the Lord’s love and grace give us all “open arms” for one another as we seek to grow as true disciples of Jesus through the study of His Word. May He give us the grace we need to live in freedom by trusting our good Shepherd, picking up our crosses, dying to self, and transparently and vulnerably confessing our “crap” to one another.

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