God's Not Afraid of Your Honesty
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said,…..
Let's set the scene. It's the night before Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world. It was after He had washed the disciples feet and instituted the Lord's Supper and it was before He left the upper room to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.
He had just told the disciples of His impending death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, from whence He would send them the Holy Spirit. He had told them of how they would soon scatter and desert Him.
Put yourself in His disciples shoes here and admit that all this news may be a bit overwhelming and unsettling. You've been walking with this Guy for three years. In that time you have seen that there is nothing that He cannot do.
So now He's going to allow Himself to be killed and all this other stuff, what can it all mean? Very unsettling, but Jesus tells them beforehand so when it comes to pass, they can have peace about it.
In 16:33, He says, “I told you these things so that you may have peace. This stuff is going to happen, I want you to be prepared for it. Keep your faith in Me and be of good cheer because even though it's going to look very bad, I'm going to win, for I have overcome the world.”
Then He immediately breaks out in a prayer to God the Father, and all I want you to notice for now is His posture. “He lifted up His eyes to heaven.”
He looked God the Father in the face. Have you ever prayed that way? Most of the time we kind of lower our heads and close our eyes and think, or maybe mumble a few words, and we call that prayer. How would that style work in your day to day communication with others?
Prayer is a conversation with God, and yes there is a time for deep humility especially as we admit our wrongdoings, just as a child will lower his head when confronted with his bad behavior, so should we.
But there is also a time for confident eye contact. A time when we can speak to the Father as a child would normally speak to his father.
There are going to be times when we truly understand what Christ's death on the cross has won for us, and as we place our faith in what Christ has done, rather than what we have done. We can look God in the face and joyfully, confidently, and respectfully speak to Him as we would speak to an earthly father.
As our reading from Hebrews says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The word boldly means with all outspokenness, frankness, bluntness. You can tell God what's on your mind! There was a song out several years ago on Christian radio by Margaret Becker called “Honesty”
Tonight by the glow Of the firelight
You found the courage To speak your mind
And tear down the walls You've been hiding behind
You spoke of your struggle And you cried from the pain
You spoke of your failure And then you turned in shame
You said you knew you'd never Be alright
God's not afraid of your honesty
He can heal your heart if you speak honestly
Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by
So many of us Spend so much time
Smoothing things over Pretending we're fine
As if life could ever be So cut and dried
But you my friend You've got that passionate heart
It'll curse you sometimes But it can take you far
When you let Him tame it You will be just fine
God's not afraid of your honesty He can heal your heart if you speak honestly. Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by.
You may feel like you're crawling Over broken glass
Crying a river Into the pillows of your past
But you will be free
God's not afraid of your honesty. He can heal your heart if you speak honestly. Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by.
What a powerful song! So loaded with truth. It's the story of someone who has been running from God and finally has gotten up the courage to speak to Him face to face. Man to man if you will. Son to father. Daughter to dad.
It takes a lot of courage to speak your mind to your father or mother doesn't it? How much more to speak to a holy God? Yet Jesus, through His sacrificial death has made it possible for you and I to do just that.
And so this person in this song tears down the walls she has been hiding behind. Oh we are good at building walls between us and God. We hide behind them like Adam and Eve tried to hide behind a tree in the Garden of Eden or the wilting fig leaves they had donned for clothing.
But God is everywhere, He sees everything, He knows everything about you and I. And He wants us to come out from behind our walls so He can bring healing to us and have fellowship with us, and so He comes to Adam and asks, “Where are you Adam? What wall are you hiding behind? And we must ask ourselves, what kind of walls do we hide behind?
Where do we choose to hide from the reality of the existence of God? We may try to explain Him away with our intellect, but what do you do with a sunrise or the birth of a baby or a life that is lived out before you in the power and love of Christ?
Maybe we can hide from God by busying ourselves with other things. Immerse ourselves in work or pleasure, or relationships, or just existing in this thing we call life. But what do we do when the work runs out, when the party is over, when the relationship ends, when our life is over? Is that all there is?
This was the struggle of this song writer. This was too painful to think about because when you think about it, you realize there's much more to life than your little self built walled in world.
There's freedom to be had, but it is a fearful thing to leave the security of your walls. There's broken glass of the damage you have done to yourself and others because you have tried to live without God in your life. And you might even cry into the pillows of your past, Yes there is pain when we finally admit to the reality of God, “But you will be free!”
And when you face the reality of the existence of God you begin to see your failure to live up to His standards, (all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!) and you turn in shame, because all along you knew deep down inside that in spite of everything seeming so good on the outside…..something was still missing. And the nagging question “have I been good enough” drives you to despair. “You knew you'd never be alright.”
You knew you needed outside help and that help is Jesus. You can't live up to God's standards but Jesus can and did. And then because someone had to pay the wages of sin, which is death…He paid the wage for the entire world. And He offers His gift of forgiveness and removal of guilt to all who will receive Him.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” (Jn 1:12)
And as the song says, “God's not afraid of your honesty He can heal your heart if you speak honestly. Humble sorrow and the honest cry He will not pass by.”
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Yet, to quote the song, “so many of us spend so much time, smoothing things over pretending were fine. As if life could ever be so cut and dried.
Hopefully, you've reached that point where you realize there is much more to this life!
Listen to the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations beginning at 3:18, “And I said, my strength and my hope have perished from the Lord.” It's the Lord Himself who must bring us to this point of despair.
To that point where we are at the end of our strength and the end of our hope. And as Jeremiah is brought to that point he prays, “Lord, remember my affliction and roaming, (my attempts to hide behind walls and escape You)
Remember the wormwood and the gall (those parts of my life that left a bad taste in my mouth. My soul still remembers them and sinks (bows down) within me. (The posture of a child who has done wrong and knows it!) And we all need to get there.
But even as he confesses his sin, note the change in tone at v21: It's like a light goes on deep down in his soul! “This I recall to mind!” Something that somebody told me about God years ago has come to mind Therefore I have hope!
What did he recall? God is merciful! V22, “Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed. We all deserve it, but He holds off because He is compassionate, and His compassions fail not! They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
By the time he reaches “great is Your faithfulness, do you think he's still bowing his head and closing his eyes and pouring ashes over himself? Oh no!
He's making eye contact now and he shouts with joy to the Lord, “Great is Your faithfulness! You are my portion, therefore I hope in You! (not those dumb old walls I've built!) I'm free! And I see now that You are good to those who wait for You!
To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
No need to build better and higher walls, they won't do you any good in the long run. The reality of God is larger than any wall we could possibly build. We cannot hide from Him anyway.
The psalmist writes, “Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven You are there; If I make my bed in hell behold you are there.” In other words, there is no escaping the reality of God.
Better to step out from behind the walls, give them up, and hope (put your trust) in the Lord. Humbly and quietly wait for Him to come to you with salvation, then humbly receive this remarkable gift.
The challenge for us gathered here today is to stop hiding from the reality of God. Step out from behind our walls and speak honestly to God about how we have been trying to avoid Him, remembering that he will never turn a deaf ear to humble sorrow, and the honest cry. God's not afraid of your honesty!
If you want God, you can have Him! He will come to you through faith in Jesus Christ. May He hear the cry of your heart today!