Recently I’ve been listening and observing, interacting with people and coming to a conclusion. Whether this conclusion is completely baseless or actually really true is really a different post in and of itself. If you think what I am about to say is hogwash, then let me know in the comments. I hope to think that I am open to other people’s views…so, here goes. The human race doesn’t like to be honest with each other. There, I said it. Yes, even Christians can sometimes fall into the notion that to be honest is to unveil certain secrets and moments in our lives where we may or may not be judged if we unveil them to the world. Society sees honesty, sadly, as a form of weakness. To be honest, according to the world, is to unveil your true self. And then in doing so, to isolate yourself from everyone else who may think differently to you, or even behave or believe something different compared to what you champion or how you live on a daily basis. So what does that have to do with worship, and the whole idea of being honest not only during worship but in every moment of every day that we live, regardless of what people think of us?
Let me put it this way- we live in a performance based society. Plain and simple. If you perform well, you are accepted. If you don’t perform…let’s just say that we all can be guilty of placing labels on someone solely upon how they act, what they wear, how they behave…I know I’m guilty of it. And if you sit back and say ‘well, that’s not me, I don’t judge’- let’s just say that if you deny it then you yourself need a reality check. Sad to say, we all judge even if we don’t want to. That’s just how the world is at the moment. Nevertheless, we as humans don’t want to be honest and fail to reveal what is truly inside; because of these fears of being judged, of being ostracized, of being shunned and looked at differently, if we all of a sudden become honest and true.
I am a champion of being honest. I’ll probably even take a friendship from the get go, knowing that it’s going to end badly because of honesty, rather than taking a friendship and knowing that everything will be fine because all we’re doing is just faking it. I know, that sentence sounds pretty deep, but it’s true. To be honest is to lay everything down and say ‘I’m done pretending. I’m done trying to live up to people’s expectations because I know in my heart that I can’t anyway’. But then in the grand scheme of things, God already knows our hearts anyway. We can be honest or not honest all we like with the people around us, but that doesn’t stop the Lord from knowing whatever it is we so badly want to keep a secret from the rest of the world. And what does that ultimately mean in the end? It gives us strength and freedom, knowing that yes, God knows our deepest darkest hearts, and still doesn’t condemn. That God knows us as we are, and loves us in our states. That He paid the ultimate price in sending God incarnate in the form of Jesus to take our place and bear our sins. That He loved us so much that even if it was for only one more person to know His unending and undying love, God will still come down to earth. Amazing isn’t it?
And then here’s the crux of the matter. Honesty doesn’t come easy. Once we know and truly believe that God loves us and that He came to die and pay the price that was meant to be ours to pay, accepting it is only the start of our transformation. Because God already knows us from the inside out, confessing our secrets and sins to Him isn’t really that hard. No that isn’t it, confessing anything is hard, but what I think I really mean is that often, sharing with the Lord can come easier to people than sharing with other people. And to put it bluntly, once we put faces on people that we have to confess our sins to and be honest with, that becomes scary. We start to think about how they would react, or what they would say. We start to worry about people’s opinions of us, when in reality the Lord tells us to fear not, tells us to cast our cares and worries upon Him, and reminds us daily that whatever we say, we say in love, not in fear, condemnation or judgement. So when we’re the person confessing or when we are on the other end hearing someone confess to us, we need to take a step back and realise- this person is being very honest with me. What is my reaction to that? If I was in that person’s spot, how would I want people to react…and thus, go from there. It’s not easy to be on the receiving end of hearing something that can alter a relationship/friendship, as much as it isn’t that easy when we’re on the giving end too!
There’s a song that I’ve been listening on repeat recently, called ‘Honestly’, by Canadian worship quartet The City Harmonic. Here are the lyrics below:
Could I let go of all that You’ve given, if it meant that it all would be Yours
Could I sit at Your feet and forget about me, and remember what I’m here for
Honestly I need to be broken, honestly I need to fall down
Go ahead and shake my foundation, cause honestly I’m figuring out
That of all that I have, all that I need is You, honestly
If I leave behind all that’s familiar, could You do what has never been done?
If I believe in You, that You believe in me, could You finish the work You’ve begun?
I’m prone to wander, but where could I go that You aren’t there?
So here’s my heart, Lord, with all of these doubts and fears and prayers
Pretty amazing isn’t it? To read these words to the song above. And a song like ‘Honestly’ deserves a second listen, maybe even a third to realise the gravity of what is being said within the 4 and a half minutes of the track. But let me just tell you the message of the song, in a nutshell- to be honest, and vulnerable, before not only the Lord but before other people, we need to surrender control. Control of the situation, control of the outcome, control over how people would react to things, just general control. And to let go of control would mean for once and for all letting go of any hidden agendas we all might have whenever we arrive in a certain situation. And be honest- we all have agendas. Some may be much more cleverly disguised than others, but we all have them. To be honest would mean to lay them all down. To say- this is me, this is who I am, sure I may be flawed, I may look like something you may not except, but regardless of what you will say to me, I know that I am loved by the King, and that even if you don’t accept me for where I am right now in my journey called life, I know in my heart that God loves me, and that and that alone is enough cause for me to be honest. And to say this above sentence takes courage, but further than that, it takes knowing who we are, to be confident in believing that even if everyone else walks away and we’re still standing, that the love of the Father is enough to cover us regardless of what others may say at that moment.
Being honest doesn’t necessarily mean only to unveil secrets and sins to each other. It’s so much more. To be honest is to share everything- your hopes, dreams, uncertainties, triumphs, failures, emotions, whether we’re angry or sad, happy and elated, sharing successes but also sharing heartache. Whatever we want to share with other people and be honest with them about, we need to know that once we start being vulnerable and putting everything on the table, we’re gonna get some backlash. We’re gonna get some snappy comments and judgements from here and there. We may lose friends. We may gain some. In the end, we need the firm foundation which is Christ Jesus and what He has done, His love for us ought to become our anchor and rock in which we stand upon if everything goes awry because of our vulnerability and honesty. Because when it comes down to it, nothing beats living a life fully transparent. We don’t have to put on a façade, don’t have to pretend and fake it so that people think that we’re all ok. Don’t have to deal with the pressure of people’s expectations- we can just lay it at the Lord’s feet, believing that He will use whatever circumstance we find ourselves in to further His kingdom and shape us into the men and women He longs for us to be, as our character is refined by the trials and difficult moments we navigate through. And even if He needs to shake us up, shake our foundations as it depicts in the song, we need to set aside what that may even look like in our lives, and trust that even if everything does go pear-shaped before it gets better, we will be ok, because we know that if God is for us, no-one and nothing can stand in our way, between us and a life full of wonder, inspiration, adventure and a life sold-out for Jesus, His fame and glory!
We all have doubts, fears and prayers we just want answered. The beauty with honesty before the Lord is that we can just lay it out for Him as plain as day, compared to being honest before people, when at the back of our minds, we need to lay out bit by bit, what we can say to them so that they can process what we are saying in a way as to not offend the situation. God can take our hurt and pain, and if we want to cry, shout, stomp our feet, do whatever is needed for us to be honest before our Lord, then that’s ok. The City Harmonic have invited us to use the song as a prayer before the Lord, to allow Him to do whatever He should do so that we can draw closer to Him, so that we can see that whatever we’re chasing in our lives that is temporary will not satisfy, that only He can quench our desires and thirst.
This life in all its facets isn’t meant to be a breeze. There’s a sense of awe, wonder, and everything that comes along with being transparent, when it comes to living life wholeheartedly with abandon, leaving everything on the table and giving it all 110%. And that is what, in a nutshell, worship is about- to worship is to allow every aspect of our life to reflect that is really in our hearts. That what we spend time on is what we worship, in a blunt way. What we prioritise and what we give time to, is voluntarily or not, being elevated to the point where we say ‘this thing is above any other’. This is why the band declare such a line- go ahead and shake my foundation. Our lives need to be shaken up if in all honesty, God is not #1, even if we say that He is. And if this song can encourage just one person to look at their lives and realise that how they have been living is actually a reflection of what they really believe in their hearts, then the band has done the job. Then the song has served its purpose.
And more important than that, this song can hopefully encourage others to become more vulnerable and honest, knowing that even if all the world shuns them, the Lord is always there, championing and advocating, cheering us on this race called life, until the finish line when we see the prize of heaven in all its glory. And what a day it’ll be! But until such a time, let us all be open and vulnerable, sharing with one another our pains but also our joys. For we are all part of one body- the body of Christ. And if one part hurts, the rest does also, if one part rejoices, so do the rest. And even if we’re just sharing with people who may not know Christ yet, we still ought to share honestly, knowing that it is by how we live that we can truly reflect whether there has really been a change inside our hearts or not!
Let me pose a few questions before I finish this post- how honest have you been, not only with the Lord, but with other people, this past year? What do you think you need to let go of (control-wise) in order to live a full life without the pressure to perform? Are there any areas in your life you believe need to be shaken or even broken for you to re-align or beliefs about God, yourself or your situation? Let us know in the comments. Til next time, have a good week, and may God reveal to you all that honesty and being vulnerable is the only way to live this crazy life full of adventure, discovery, exploration, wonder and fulfilment, with the Lord Jesus by our side, every step of the way!