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The title of the sixth chapter of The Cure is “Two Friends”, and the subject, not surprisingly, is two different types of friends.
One type of friend will love you, come what may. They will be loyal to you, stand by you in your difficulties, and protect you, even in the midst of your mess. Because, let’s face it, all God’s chilluns got issues – which is is basically a paraphrase of Romans 3:23, which says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
To this type of friend, you grant permission to tell the hard truth, because you are absolutely convinced that this friend has your back.
You’ll find this type of friend in the Room of Grace. (If you’re confused by the reference to “the Room of Grace”, you may have missed my previous posts on this book. This is the sixth in a series of 7 planned posts on the book, The Cure, by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall. I have wanted to share not only how great I thought this book was – life-changingly great – but also, to share the thoughts that the book triggered for me at this point in my life. I’ll put links to the other 5 posts I’ve written so far, at the bottom of this post.)
In the Room of Good Intentions, where appearance is everything, you’ll be more likely to run into a different type of friend. With this type of friend, it is more important that you appear to have yourself together. Because if it becomes apparent to this friend that, in fact, you don’t quite have it together, this friend may step in to “fix” you. And if you don’t get fixed pretty quickly, this friend may just talk about you behind your back. Or, worse, tell all your friends about your issues, phrasing it as a “prayer request”. And finally, if you continue to be a disappointment or an embarrassment, this type of friend will walk away from you.
This chapter poses the paradigm-shifting question “What if it was less important that anything ever gets fixed than that nothing has to be hidden?”
In The Room of Grace, people understand that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on their behalf, that they are ALREADY pleasing to God – that they ALREADY possess the righteousness of Christ, that they truly ARE a new creation, and that God is standing right there beside them, helping them to work on their sin issues. Obviously, God is fully aware of those same failings that our friends see. He’s not oblivious to them or apathetic about them. But He has adopted us as children. So, He’s not going to leave us: our sin will not keep His Father-heart from reaching out to us in love, and holding us close. His love and power are there to assist us, as we wrestle with our issues. He has our back – always.
So, if we’re now living in the Room of Grace, how we treat other people, our friends, in particular, is based on the same principle. We love them. We are in it for the long haul. Even when we see the worst that is in them.We want our friends to know, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”.
And, in part, we want them to know that because that’s the way we ourselves want to be treated, once our warts become apparent. Even when they see the worst that is in us.
Not everyone can be trusted in this way. I’ve been burnt before. So, given that, the question for me becomes, “With whom am I willing to allow myself to be this vulnerable?” Not everyone is worthy of that kind of trust.
The book asks, “What if there was a friend so safe that the worst aspects of me could be known, and I would not be loved less, but actually loved more by opening up?”
Are there such people out there? I really believe that there are. In fact, I believe I know quite a few of them.
When I find I AM safe enough to reveal the worst about myself with someone, there is real, life-giving power in that kind of relationship. My basic human needs for love, security, and attention get met. When I meet someone who is willing to stand with me in my struggles, who will persevere in relationship with me, even as God works in me to resolve my sin issues, this is love.
When people are bound up in external appearances, they keep on trying to manage their “junk” through sheer willpower, and bootstrap effort. “I just have to try harder, and I can lick this issue, and then, people will know that Christianity is working, and God will be pleased with me” is the thought pattern of the Room of Good Intentions. Sadly, they are missing important, Biblical truths: that God has *already* re-made you, and found you acceptable. He is pleased by your faith – the fact that you trust Him and what He’s done for you.
Placing your focus on your sin and failings is misplaced, wasted energy, not only because it ignores what God has already accomplished for you, but also because it cripples you in regard to the work he actually means for you to do. God lives inside of you, and has commanded you to do one thing: and that is to love. And because His strength and love live inside of you, you have all the resources you need. You have a well that continually springs up from within you, enabling you to fulfill that command.
Perhaps the worst part of that wrong focus, I think, is the loss of the freedom and joy that Christ purchased for you at highest cost – the freedom that comes from knowing that we are “accepted in the Beloved”. He meant for you to have it, to enjoy it, to revel in it. He came for you to have life to the full. Not life spent in endless shame and self-flagellation due to your own shortcomings.
Struggling to sin less won’t please God any more. He already loves you as much as He’s ever going to love you. The Bible says that without faith, it’s impossible to please Him. So, it’s trusting God that is the very thing that pleases Him most. And then, following His example, we persevere in love. We persevere in loving Him, and we persevere in loving others in that same way. We love, because He first loved us.
That’s where our focus should be.
So, as friends, our job is not to focus on fixing the other guy. Our job is to live authentically with each other, in honest relationships that persevere, intent on giving and receiving love. This is what the Church SHOULD be.
If you are interested in reading my other posts on this wonderful book, here they are:
Chapter One: Two Roads
Chapter Two: Two Faces
Chapter Three: Two Gods
Chapter Four: Two Solutions
Chapter Five: Two Healings
I have in NO way been compensated to talk about this book. It’s just brought me a tremendous amount of healing, and I wanted to share what I’ve gained with any other soul who might be searching for a little hope. And if you’re tired of this series of posts, well, kudos to you for reading this far! And only one more chapter to go !!!