“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
“How are you?” “Great!”
“How are you?”
American culture has such a wonderful habit of asking people how they are doing even when you don’t know the person. In most cultures, people greet one another solely by saying “hello” or in Dutch, “Goededag.” It is so wonderful that we ask the person we meet on the street, “How are you?” even if we haven’t met before. In other words, you don’t have to know someone before you show yourself friendly and accommodating. The proper American way to answer this question is by saying, “I am well,” no matter what is happening to you at that time. Even when you are not doing well, you wouldn’t dare to say that things are not okay with you, right in the face of someone who is posing you that question, especially to a person passing you by on the street.
Without doubts, we live in a culture where we pretend as though everything is fine while we are struggling on the inside. We put forth a bold disposition with a smiling face to hide our inner hurts, broken heart, pains, and frustrations, while crying inwardly, “If they only knew the real me, or if they only knew who I was behind closed doors.” While you might say that such a thing is the case in secular culture, but not in Christian circles, I would have to disagree.
Yes, I am mainly talking here to Christians. It is so much easier for us to pretend that everything is fine and that we are living a perfect life, thereby creating around ourselves a realm of self-righteousness, and crucifying the world—that is, nonbelievers—with the thought of them not being as RIGHTEOUS as we are. This is not what the Gospel is about. The Gospel is not about pretending as though we are perfect and putting our judgment on anyone who doesn’t live according to biblical standards. The Gospel is about being real, sincere, and open—that’s the only way we can receive help. When we allow Jesus in, He meets us at our present state. We don’t have to pretend to be the perfect moms, wives, or employees. When we pretend to be perfect, we are actually building walls around ourselves, which will eventually crumble.
When I was a teenager, I became a professional at having people like me. I would act in a jovial way such as smiling at people, being happy, and laughing at their jokes—and it all worked. People always liked me because all they knew was the way I behaved toward them. Don’t we all have a desire to be liked and to be loved? I was afraid to show any side of me that might possibly make someone to dislike me. Nevertheless, over the years, I have come to realize that when you only show a happy face to people, you might be loved and liked, but not for who you really are. People would like you for someone you only pretend to be.
When you are completely plain about whom you’re, you take the risk of getting hurt, but you would be loved in the long run. Being honest might amount to taking the risk to lose friends, but you would end up growing friendships that are stronger than before. When Jesus walked and lived on this earth, He met people at the place where they were vulnerable and could not hide who they were Think about Mary Magdalene, a prostitute who poured out her precious oil on Jesus’ feet and everyone in the room was bewildered at such an act. Even the Pharisees looked in disgust at the woman pouring herself out in front of the Messiah. Jesus was not afraid of who she was and He was not afraid to welcome her into His life, into the moment of fellowship. He was not afraid of having His reputation damaged through their people’s self-righteous opinions. Jesus’ love for people crossed all barriers, as there was no one too sinful, too disgraced, or too broken for Jesus not to open up His arms and invite them to be part of His life.
In the same way, today, Jesus wants to be a part of our lives, all of it. And, better still, He wants us to be part of His life, which He has so freely given. The only way to be fully loved is to be fully known. Therefore, Christ is the only one who is capable of fully loving us because He fully knows us from before we were even born. The world desperately needs real, honest people who dare to meet others at the place they are at.
Many people within the church have an attitude of “we are holier than thou art.” Like Jesus, we must learn to accept one another for who we are, and be ready to help when we are falling short in any way. If today’s Church doesn’t have this strange attitude, Christians will find it comfortable to be vulnerable and honest, so that others can come into their private lives to help. Unfortunately, fellows Christians are often too quick to look down on you when things are not so well with you. This is contrary to what Christ taught us and expressed with His life. Let us be like Christ and welcome anyone in our midst at the place they are at, not judging but loving and caring for the people that God loves so much. That’s New Testament Gospel!