I am a scary sight to see before, during and after a workout. At these times, all I’m focused on getting to the gym, getting through the 45-60 minutes of exercise, and, quite frankly, getting it over with. My clothes are cool and comfortable, not at all cute. I pull my hair tightly back so it’s not in my face, which is not a flattering hairstyle for someone with an enormous head like mine. And, I certainly don’t wear makeup. If I did, it would slide right off of my face within the first few minutes of class, my mascara winding up on my chin.
Now, normally, I would not want anyone outside of my immediate family to see me looking so badly. I’m not a particularly vain person, but even I have my standards. However, most days of the week, anywhere from 20-50 of my gym-mates are subjected to my sweaty, stinky, disheveled self. And, surprisingly, it really doesn’t bother me at all that so many people see me looking so bad. I don‘t even think about it. It’s probably because no one looks their best in the middle of a work out. We’re all there with the common purpose of getting sweaty. Looking rough is expected. Rings of sweat are a badge of honor for a job well done. The gym is a safe place to be un-lovely.
I wish the church was a little more like the gym. Here’s what I mean. At many churches, we’re expected to have ourselves all pulled together, smiling and happy and holy like everyone else. There’s this unspoken rule that we’re never supposed to let the ugliness of sin, shame, hurt, pain or guilt see the light of day. But, shouldn’t church be the one place where we are safe to be un-lovely? Shouldn’t we, as Christians, having a deep understanding of the price paid for our own grace and forgiveness, be first ones to extend grace and forgiveness to others?
In Romans 15 we’re given valuable instructions about how Christians should treat each other. Here are a couple of examples:
-We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up (1-2)
-Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God (7)
It’s been said, very wisely, that the church is supposed to be a hospital for sinners, not a museum of Saints. Does your church feel that way? If not, the change has to start with individuals, it has to start with you. Commit today to develop a spirit or acceptance, unity, honesty and a willingness to share the burdens of others. And, pray that God will bring other like-minded believers alongside you to help transform not just your church, but the entire body of Christ.