Wednesday, May 10, 2006

[subversive underground] FAILURE

[the following was sent to the faithful subscribers on the subversive underground on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006]

[subversive underground] FAILURE
by Keith Giles

Have you ever had God show you what you're really like on the inside?

In recent memory, God has done this to me twice. Once was when I was reading
Dallas Willard's "Renovation Of The Heart" and the Holy Spirit showed me how
my attitude was dangerously similar to that of the Pharisees. I was crushed.
It just took my breath away to so suddenly see my own sinful, black heart
and to realize that I had been blind to my hypocrisy for so long.

The second time God revealed my hypocrisy to me was last week during House

I had been praying that day about what God would have me to share with the
group, as we all do before our Thursday evenings together. I had scribbled
down several scriptures about serving the poor, loving our brothers, and
Jesus own words about how those who truly love him will obey his teachings.
I was set to go.

But then my God-orchestrated undoing began. The phone call came that one of
our house church members was bringing a friend along. I knew this person and
he wasn't one of my favorite people. I rolled my eyes as soon as I heard he
was coming to our group. My mind began planning how I would contain this
person so that he wouldn't dominate the conversation with talk of politics
or internet conspiracy theories as he is often prone to do. By the time he
arrived my strategy to corral him was firmly in place.

As we moved out of our worship time and into our share time, I was on my
guard for his interjections. When he began to share with us about his
anxiety over his business issues, I countered with my own words of wisdom. I
shared my scriptures about washing the feet of others as Jesus washed our
feet. Every time he began to speak up, I was there to interrupt and to shift
the message back on track.

However, one of the ladies in our group wasn‚t hip to my strategy. She
repeatedly asked him to finish his sentence or to share more about his
anxiety. She returned again and again to him to ask if he was really ok and
if he needed us to pray for him, or if he had really shared all that was on
his heart. I began to squirm.

By the end of the evening, this man was sitting on the "hot seat" in the
center of the room and we were all praying over him, including me. Suddenly
my heart began to break for this man. My attitude softened, my compassion
began to pour out for him. I had several words of encouragement for him, and
as we prayed for him, he wept freely.

After our prayer, this same woman got down on her knees and looked into his
face. I could see her eyes as she looked into his and she began to encourage
him with words of affirmation and sincere Christian love about how he was
one with us, how he was precious to Jesus, and how we loved him as a brother
in Christ.

I was now fully convicted of my own sin.

Here Jesus had entered my home in the form of this man I had pre-judged and
I had missed Him. Jesus had come in need of compassion and mercy and I had
planned to keep him on the outside looking in. If not for the genuine
compassion of this woman in our house church, I would have missed Jesus
entirely, and this man would have no one to wash his feet.

If my friend had not washed this man's feet, I would not have done it. If it
were up to me, Jesus would have left my house with dirty feet.

Ironically, two weeks before, there had been another visitor in my house
church, and both men even shared the same name. I saw Jesus in this first
visitor instantly. He had MS. His outward physical handicap
allowed me to see Jesus clearly. In this case, I was able to love and bless
someone without prejudice. But in the case of the second visitor, I had
missed Him completely. Why? Because this was a man I had already determined
was unworthy of such extravagant compassion.

The full effect of what I had done didn't hit me fully until about 3am the
next morning. For about two months now, Jesus has been waking me up at about
3am to draw me into prayer. I can honestly say that it's Jesus because,
quite frankly, I would prefer to sleep most of the time. But like clockwork
I snap awake at 3am on the dot and can't get back to sleep unless I get up
and go into the den to talk with Jesus for at least an hour.

As I made my way into the den that early morning and sat down on the same
couch where our guest had been sitting. God spoke to my heart and convicted
me of my shameful behavior. Slowly, methodically, Jesus revealed not only
the inner darkness of my heart to me, but how I had missed all the cues and
signals along the way.

I was crushed.

How could I have missed Him? Even as I had my Bible open to the very
scriptures that should have made this clear to me, I had missed Him. Even as
I opened my mouth to teach the rest of our group about what it means to love
Jesus, I was oblivious to Him in my own home.

And so, I don't know any easy way to wrap this up, except to say that I hope
that a few of you can learn from my humiliation. I have to believe that God
can teach me something profound in the midst of my failure, and perhaps he
can teach you something too.

In times like this I realize even more how much of a miracle it will be if
the Holy Spirit is able to transform someone like me into the image of
Christ before I die.

Christ in me, the hope of Glory.

I can only hope.


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