I have a confession: I like rock ‘n roll. Larry Norman’s “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music” could be my theme song. Sometimes a loud, fast song does my heart good. I think it’s just part of who I am. And what, you ask, does that have to do with the theme of this column?
I guess I’m aiming for a little transparency (at least as much as a column penned under a pseudonym can be).
Because I’ve been thinking about how God is molding me into the person he wants me to be. Sometimes (many times) I get in the way. Yet the process continues and it includes stripping away my pretense, taking off my “church mask.” Whenever I am less than honest about my struggles or weaknesses, whenever I hide what I consider my less “church-acceptable” traits, I’m making it harder for the Holy Spirit to do his work in me. I believe it interferes with using my gifts to their fullest.
God gives each of us gifts to use in building the body of Christ. The sermon series this Advent season is taking a more in-depth look at that process, but I want to suggest here that part of discovering your gifts is discovering — and accepting — who you are in Christ. Rom 12: 3-8 reminds us that each member of the body of Christ has a gift to use. And it takes all the gifts for the body to function effectively.
So maybe you’ve been thinking you know what your gift is, but you’re afraid to use it. Maybe there’s something in your past or something in your personality that you’re letting hold you back. But God is bigger than our past, he’s bigger than our struggles. When we say “yes” to serving him with our gifts, he helps us. He fills in where we are lacking; he opens doors to service in ways we’ve never imagined.
In one of the Chronicles of Narnia, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” C.S. Lewis tells the story of a boy named Eustace Scrubb. In the story, Eustace becomes a dragon and realizes he’s been a pretty unpleasant person. He’s sorry for everything he’s done and wishes he could be un-dragoned. Finally, one night Aslan — the great and good lion and Christ-figure of the stories — tells Eustace he may bathe in a pool and be transformed, but first he must undress. Eustace realizes he needs to shed his dragon hide, but discovers he can’t do it by himself. So Aslan helps. He pierces much deeper into the hide than Eustace could and it’s painful, but in the end Eustace is a boy again. And he’s transformed. Much of his pretense is stripped away and he’s on the way to becoming who he was really meant to be.
Becoming who we are in Christ is a process, but it starts with letting God pierce our pretensions and defenses and receiving his grace. Then we’ll be able to serve with confidence, knowing we are filling our necessary role in the body.
And it’s OK to admit liking loud music.