February 8, 2018

Deep Connections: Part 2

“With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us.”  2 Corinthians 3:12-13a (Msg) 

If you want a deep and understanding relationship, you must first decide not to hide your true feelings, desires and needs.  Unlike Moses, who wore a veil so no one would notice that the glory was fading from his face, we don’t need to wear masks to hide behind.  Wearing masks will wear you out. The only way to be that transparent is to experience God’s acceptance.  That’s the second letter in our acrostics.  

E-xperience Acceptance 

You can decide not to hide when you experience God’s acceptance of you.  In verses 16 and 17, Paul adds this liberating truth!

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!”  

When you realize what Christ has done for you, you are safe to take off your mask!  The God who created you knows you the best and loves you the most!  He sees behind the masks we wear and loves the real us!  The only way to feel safe in any relationship is to know Jesus!  When we realize how accepted we are in Christ, we can risk rejection.  We have freedom to remove the mask!  We don’t have to try to please others to gain their favor.  Not even God can please everyone.  We have freedom from what others think of us!  We have freedom to be who God created us to be!

If you desire that kind of freedom, the key is found in the first part of that verse – “… whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”  Have you taken that step?  Turn to Christ and experience real acceptance!  When you experience God’s acceptance, you can take the next step toward deep and fulfilling relationships:

E-xtend Acceptance

When you experience real acceptance in your life with the God who knows you better than anyone else, you have the capacity to extend that same acceptance to others.  When you risk removing your mask, you can accept others just as they are and love them. In Romans 15:7, the Bible says:

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” 

Paul tells us how we can do that in our key passage, 2 Corinthians 3:18:

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 

Christ followers are the people with unveiled faces!  We don’t have to wear masks to be accepted.  God accepts us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way!  He comes, by His Spirit, to transform us into the image of His own Son!  We don’t put on a Jesus mask; we put on Christ Himself!  Jesus clothes Himself with our redeemed humanity, and we take on His likeness in everything we do and say.  It is Christ in us, not Christ and us.

His acceptance enables us to accept others.  To accept someone like that means you care enough to share the truth with them in love like Jesus did with the adulterous woman who was brought to Him.  Instead of throwing stones of judgment, He challenged those around her with rocks in their hands: 

“… let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

When everyone dropped their stones and walked away, He looked up at her and said, 

“‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’  ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’” John 8:10-11 (NLT)

While it’s easier to make judgments and throw stones, the people of unveiled faces extend the same acceptance with uncompromising love that we have received.  When we risk loving and speaking the truth in love, we experience deep and fulfilling relationships.