Monday, 17 March 2008

In the Light...

An email recently received from a friend:

This past week, I was asked by a young man in Zion to be his accountability partner. He was struggling with the lust of the flesh, and knowing that pornography on the internet was just a click away, he chose to subject himself to this online software known as Covenant Eyes. Covenant Eyes required the user to have accountability partners, and what happens is that the programme would send these partners the list of all websites that the user has been visiting (questionable or otherwise). The partners would also be kept updated should the user choose to opt out of the covenant and remove the programme.
I was both impressed and challenged - for Lord knows that I also struggle with these things and have stumbled many times before.

Such willingness to hold oneself accountable to another brethren in Christ is hard to come by. How rare it is in church, and yet how precious it is in the sight of the Lord!

You know how scripture says so much about Christians being in the light - the Lord has saved us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), and he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God (see John 3:19-21). We have tended to understand the phrase "being in the light" in various abstract ways - we talk of light as enlightenment, as glory, as refreshment, as bringing growth.
But I suggest that it also carries the very simple meaning of "being known", of being open, having nothing to fear.
Taken further, to be in the light is to be unafraid and unashamed to confess one's own sins, vulnerabilities, anxieties, weaknesses, and the years of chasing up the wrong tree and abiding by a false vine ... to be in the light ALSO means confessing one's strengths, joys, testimonies, giftings and thanksgivings. To God, as well as to fellow believers.

Some other Christians would use the term "being vulnerable" or "being real" to describe this. And it takes great humility... the kind of humility that means thinking BOTH less and lowly about oneself. It leads to the kind of sharing that opens such a wide window into the soul that it is no wonder that such accountability and confession should generally exist between brothers, or between sisters, but not in between. It is intimate. And it opens the door to great healing (James 5:16). Wasn't it so that none of us got saved except that we first got honest with God? Should we not be honest also with the body of Christ? Can the body of Christ be trusted?

We Asians would pride ourselves on modesty, but often we are guilty of a false modesty that spills over into all kinds of falsehood. And Christians are most susceptible to the subtlest and most wicked of them all - spiritual pride.

In Zion's case, I doubt if it is all a matter of pride. But I think we do have a lot of fear - Of condemnation and of accusation (usually in the form of gossip), of victimization, and of further hurt. We also have a lot of inexperience and immaturity - it's hard to be vulnerable and to be open when you've not witnessed it or seen its fruits in the community; or when we've hardly bothered to build real friendships with people; or when we've been hurt. I write as a product of this culture ... and I too need to be set free.

Who amongst us wants to walk in the light? Who would confess his hurt, and need for God? Who would be trustworthy to listen to the deep thoughts and feelings of a friend or stranger? Who would be courageous to love?

Who would take that step to help make Zion a place for rest, refreshing, and restoration?

Who wants to be set free from the past?

Start with prayer.. being honest to God once again.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:21)

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