By Ros Ling
A few months ago, I was reading Heirs Magazine online, and was very struck by an article entitled ‘Does anyone really know you?’ .
We long to be known, don’t we? To be seen and understood, fully accepted and loved for who we really are, especially at our worst. Yet actually, we can spend so much of our time and effort hiding, and instead projecting a ‘front stage’, an image of ourselves that, sometimes for a whole host of complex reasons, we feel will be most acceptable to others. Even if we don’t feel we do that, there can still be powerful little pockets of our ‘back stage’ self that we don’t like, that we keep hidden away in the dark. What we try and hide can sometimes cause powerful emotions like guilt, anger and shame to thrive in the isolation and secrecy. We can be so lost in the mire of negative self-talk that we are unable, by ourselves, to see what is true and what isn’t true, what is sin and what is as a result of an overactive conscience or self-condemnation. It can be a place of loneliness.
Jesus is the Light of the world. Even the darkness is not dark to him; it is as light with him. He sees, he knows. In Him, we are fully accepted and unconditionally loved - jars of clay containing the treasure of creation light. When Jesus commanded his disciples to ‘love one another just as he had loved them….. ‘(John 13:34), did he intend us to pretend with one another, hide our real selves from one another, only show the successes (or possibly, maybe the ‘acceptable failures’) - the beautiful, clean, unspoilt clay jars? Or did he have in mind the kind of love where honesty, vulnerability and trust flourish? Where people feel safe and accepted as they really are in all their brokenness? Where friends walk alongside as the hurts, fears and sadness are brought into the glorious light of the gospel together?
I remember when our children were little, on the way to nursery, we used to pray that they might ‘shine for Jesus’ that day. As, with time, our clay jars become increasingly chipped & cracked, the more Jesus’ light can shine in and the more the treasure within is enabled to shine out. We’re often our own harshest critic, thinking we could never possibly share the things we try so hard to hide, but maybe those chips and cracks or even the whopping great big holes are more commonplace than we think. A trusted brother or sister in Christ who has truly understood the gospel of grace will not think less of you for your honesty, rather they will actually think more of you and your courage and strength in sharing ‘weakness’. Then can begin the process by which that light of Christ can shine into those dark, as yet unknown places….