Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tearing Up Carpet

As most of you know, Stand True and my family have moved to Troy, Ohio. We bought a very old house in Troy that would fit my family and the Stand True offices and missionaries. In Ohio you can get almost 4 times the house for your money than in Virginia.

So, my wife and I woke up last Sunday morning to the sounds of our 2-year-old, Jaemison, throwing up on me and the carpet next to the bed. After taking care of Jaemison my wife and I went back to bed. When we woke up we noticed a bad stench and huge stains in the carpet despite my wife's attempt to clean it earlier. Unfortunately, the carpet was holding the stains and the smell.

My wife pulled up the vent near the stains and let out a yell as she realized that under the smelly, stained carpet was beautiful, old hardwood. Over the next few days we actually pulled up the carpet in the living room, dining room and a lot of the upstairs only to find some of the most amazing and beautiful hardwood floors.

While the hardwood has some imperfections from old furniture and years of living, it is absolutely beautiful. In fact, the imperfections and wear spots give it a lot of character. We have decided that we want to leave it how it is and enjoy the character of the wood and the years of stories it tells about our house.

Many times we, as humans, try to mask who we really are. We think that the imperfections we have make us less valuable or less attractive. We "lay down carpet" to cover up the real people, to hide our true character.

I understand why we do that. Because so many people focus in on our imperfections and wear spots, and we, ourselves, often look at people, notice the rough edges and make judgments on those alone. We don't see the whole person and understand that we all have imperfections; we just want to point those things out in others and ignore the fact that we have just as many if not a whole lot more.

It is no wonder people try to hide and cover who they really are. It is no wonder people don't want to share when they are struggling or going through hard times. I meet kids all the time who are so angry with the church because, when they did open up, they were devoured instead of loved and helped. I meet kids that are so hurt and lost inside because they are afraid to let anyone know they are struggling with sin. It seems so many in the church would rather just "lay down more carpet" to cover up our problems so that no one knows they are there.

People are afraid that if anyone knew that Christians struggle just like everyone else then we might get called hypocrites. But it is the very act of covering up the struggles with a pretty exterior and pretending that they don't exist that makes us hypocrites, especially when that cover is ripped away and we are exposed for who we really are.

We seem to think that we have to impress everyone around us to show them how together we that we're Christians. The fact is we are still imperfect humans with struggles and problems just like anyone else. We can't make ourselves perfect, it is only Christ who can perfect us.

Maybe if Christians were to live their lives without all the fancy cover-ups and just be real with each other, then the world might actually see the beauty of Christ and what He can do. Not just a bunch of fake, happy people who pretend not to struggle or sin. Not the bunch of self-righteous hypocrites that the world often thinks we are.

Of course we are happy and we are filled with the joy of Christ. Of course we are made new and washed clean by His blood. But we are still human, and we will still go through human struggles while we are on this earth.

Maybe if we were willing to look past those imperfections in others we would be able to love them and help them to find that victory and freedom we have in Christ. Maybe if we "pulled back the carpet" in our own lives, we would be able to be there to love our brothers and sisters who are so afraid to open up because they think no one can possibly be as screwed up as them.

I would think that if, at any given moment, we could actually see what was in the minds and hearts of all of our friends we would be shocked. I am talking about the inner most thoughts that we all hide away. We would be surprised to see that we all go through some of the same struggles and sins.

We all run this race that we call life and we are all going to fall down and scrape and bruise ourselves along the way. But we must press on towards that goal, that hope we have received through Christ.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

For Christ I stand,

Bryan Kemper

No comments: