The word "real" is highly popular in church circles these days.  So many fellowships, including ours, include it in some part of their purpose statement and it can be found all over many church websites.  We want to present ourselves as real people, dealing with real problems, offering real solutions, through a real God, to those we seek to reach.  I believe in the sincerity of our desire, but have deep doubts as to the very "realness" of ourselves.  We have great difficulty in being real with others, ourselves, and most especially, with God.  The very structure of our fellowships so often works against it.  We make room for people to "share" their problems, but too often neglect making room for God to truly encounter they, and us, in real, life transforming ways.  We seek to create an atmosphere where people feel accepted as they are, but have so little place for Him to truly come in and do His miraculous work of transformation.  We seek an intimacy that never seems to go beyond the flesh, the idea of a God who shows up in our gatherings, and where our only response can be to fall on our faces before Him, scares the daylights out of us. That's just a bit too "real" for most of us.  In those places where He is able to bring us face to face with Himself, we more often run away from, rather than to Him.  We look for another fellowship, another prayer group, where we can be involved, but on our terms, with us setting all the boundaries.  God is no respecter of boundaries, and will cross them every time in order to get to our hearts.  This is "real church" but it's too real for too many.
     I heard a good brother named Jimmy Evans recently speak on how he served the Lord as a pastor, and in what were outwardly successful ways, yet all the while denying to himself the deep woundedness and dysfunction of his life.  Yet, that love that will not let us go pursued him.  As Evans says, God wants to come to us face to face, stick His finger in our coffee and stir it.  He makes it real.  As Beth Moore says, He wants to "mess with our mess."  Most of us prefer Him to leave our mess alone, but as Evans says, "True authenticity comes only when we allow the Holy Spirit to explore us."  We have believed so many lies, about ourselves, others, Him, and only by face to face encounter, a head on collision with Him, can those lies be broken.  When Christ messes with our mess, it can be very messy.  Too often our desire for being "real" doesn't go that deep.  It's much easier and lot more orderly to just keep it on the surface kinds of intimacy, call that real, and go on unchanged, missing what being real with Him is really all about.
    In Ephesians 3, Paul writes about the "priceless gain of knowing Christ," and how it took coming to realize that everything else was garbage in comparison to that knowledge.  This came about by his having a transforming encounter, one that was ongoing, with Christ.  The Lord messed with his mess.  Stuck His finger in Paul's life.  Got down and real with him.  He seeks the same from you and I.  Will we have it, or will we just keep running?  T. Austin-Sparks said that "True spirituality is not to live on the outside, but to live with God right down deep in your own being, where the Spirit is."  Moore once said that God gave Jacob a "20 year look in the mirror."  That's being real.  At the end of it, the Jacob who was, was no more.  A lot of us avoid mirrors for obvious reasons, but we cannot afford to avoid the mirror He holds before us, the one which shows us as we are, but will also show us, if we will tarry before Him, who we have been created to be by Him.  Will we have this?  Will we be real, for real?

Blessings,
Pastor O
 
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