Title: 1 John 1:1-10, 2:1-2
Series: 1 John
Teacher: Jacob Bender
Date: August 1, 2013
Description: It is easy to look good without actually being good, but looking good is not the point, the point is honesty but it is very hard to be transparent with people you do not have a true relationship with.
As Christians, arguably our biggest problem is that we have a reputation to maintain, and its actually what is killing our reputation with unbelievers, and is a poison killing our relationships within the church.
Key Scriptures: 1 John 1:1-10, 1 John 2:1-2, Luke 22:7-22, John 19:26-27, John 20:1-9, John 21:1-14, Proverbs 10:28, Ephesians 4:25, John 1:29
Download the pro presenter file (save link as)
There are tons and tons of commentaries on 1 John. The one that Jacob referenced in this message was written by John Calvin and is available for kindle for .99 cents.
Brennan Manning's "The Ragamuffin Gospel" was also quoted.
1 John 1, by Jacob Bender
When I was finishing up high school, just about the enter the wide world of religion and other things in my lifelong mission of creatively presenting Jesus to the world, I was given a beautiful gift in the form of advice. That advice was, "read the Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning."
Brennan passed away just a few months ago, and I remember reading the news of the fragile old man finally slipping into eternity and I found myself reflecting on the impact of his work.
I've never heard a pastor be more open or more real then he. Unfortunately, on the other hand, his life did not well reflect that which you would expect from a pastor which gave him a whole lot to be transparent about. I don't say this in a judgmental way, he himself would attest to this and does in his many writings. His life was a mess, an alcoholic of the worst kind. It destroyed his marriage, and even caused him to miss his own mothers funeral.
Brennan's message was grace. His last work was a memoir of his life and he called it "all is grace" because if anybody needed grace, it was Brennan. And though his perspective on grace is powerful and was the only thing that got him through many sad years of struggle, it was his openness that most appealed to me. He said, and I talk about this in this teaching "The temptation of the age is to look good without being good" an how true that is of so many of us. I think that the reason he laid out all of his problems on the altar of transparency for all of us to see is because he realized that somebody had to take the lead on this transparency thing. The thing that bothered me most when I was studying for this teaching is that I spent the last ten years of my life reading his transparent thoughts and yet now after all these years its still something that I struggle with. I often find myself being transparent enough that people will consider me a transparent person, but not transparent enough that I am actually letting people into what is really going on in my life.
This realization came to a head when my wife told me that I was religious (and not James taking care of orphans religious), and that I care more about people thinking that we have a good marriage than I do about us having a good marriage. Where that obviously is not entirely true, and I care very much about having a good marriage, the comment was one that certainly required some thought, because sometimes I put more effort into appearing a certain way than I do to actually being that way. In my heart, I desire to be good, I desire to be a good husband, father, leader, and friend. But where is the fruit? How much fruit is actually there? and what does it look like?
How much energy do you put into how you are viewed publicly, and how much energy do you actually put into developing your character and who you really are?
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:25 says "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another."
We are called to transparency. Not wearing our hearts on our sleeves and making scenes with our emotions, but having people in our lives who we allow to see us for who we really are, what we are really going through, and what we really need. When Brennan Manning spoke transparently, it was not a burden on his readers or listeners, he connected with them exactly where they are at by showing them exactly where he was at. It is very different from making someone uncomfortable by wearing frustrations and anger on your sleeve. Finding that balance is critical, but for me I have found that I would rather err on the side of openness than mask what is really going on. Christians wear masks. They wear more masks than anybody I have ever seen and often it is out of good intentions… They know that they are representing Jesus to a world that already views him harshly, and so they try and appear as if they have it all together as a testimony to his goodness.
The problem is that it comes across as snobbery, appearing better than everyone else, and in general paints a picture of something you are not when in reality you are going through the same things that most of your critics are. Maybe if you would bare witness to where you actually are, you would make a friend or two along the way who is going through the same thing.
Maybe representing Jesus does not always look like perfection, though he is perfect. Maybe it just looks like meeting people, in their place of need, with honesty, because we are all going through the same things. Its just the bold ones who actually take off their mask and say "this is where I really am at."
And you would be shocked at how many people step out after one person does, because we are all going through the same type of stuff.