We are running a fortnightly bible study following our community dinner looking at the exegesis (interpretation) of the bible passages that underpin each of our community values. You can read the list of Values here so you know what’s coming up next.
These values can be relevant whatever context you live and work in just make the Word you own.
Value 6: Being honest about who we are
We value the humility and forgiveness required to live transparent lives in community. We want to submit to each other in accountability and honesty, allowing Christ to use our weaknesses and failings.
Biblical basis: 2 Cor 12:9-10, 2 Cor 3:18
Let’s read the value together. What stands out?
All of those words – humility, forgiveness, transparency, submission, accountability, honesty elicit an emotional reaction – they’re strong words, they’re challenging words.
Not only are we often not rewarded for being honest , we can be penalised for speaking up.
It often requires vulnerability in the first place ‘weaknesses and failings’ are on display so then you’re open to a “hit”.
Once you start hating people it keeps going. Sometimes you have to forgive people and walk away.
2 Cor 12: 9-10
…there is no reason to think I’d end up with egg on my face if I did talk big about my own experiences. It would be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but don’t get me started! I’d rather let my actions do the talking for me. Let me be judged simply by the value of what I teach and what I do. Any spectacular revelations I may have experienced in the past should not inflate your opinion of me.
……..And believe me, God has seen to it that they haven’t given me an over inflated opinion of myself. To balance them out and keep my feet firmly on the ground, I have been given a special gift — a real thorn in the flesh, a condition that torments me and causes great anguish in my body. Satan used it to try to derail me, but it is probably what has kept me on track. Of course I couldn’t see that at first. Three times I put everything else aside and gave all my time and energy to seeking the Lord for healing and deliverance. But the Lord said to me, “My generous love is enough for you. Your weakness clears the deck and opens you to my strength.”
……..So then, if it means that Christ’s strength will be all the more active in me, I will gladly wear my weaknesses like a badge of honour. Indeed, given the opportunity to talk about them, you can’t shut me up! So nowadays, whatever comes my way — failure, bad-mouthing, tough times, harassment, tragedy —I take it all in my stride and just allow Christ to come to the fore. You see, it is when I am at my weakest that I find the greatest strength.
2 Cor 3.10-4.3
The people back then were as thick-headed as the people of our own day — they could hear the words of God’s law read out, but it never seemed to penetrate their hearts and minds. It’s as though the scarf has stayed in place ever since to prevent anyone from catching sight of the glory revealed by the words. Only Christ can uncover what is hidden. It’s the same for anyone who reads the scriptures without opening themselves to the Lord for insight: it is as though the wool has been pulled over their eyes and nothing gets through but the bare words. It all changes when we turn to the Lord, though, because the Lord is a real eye-opener. The Lord and the Spirit are one and the same, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the freedom to see clearly. The wool is pulled away from our eyes and we come face to face with the glory of God. This experience is truly transfiguring! We are set ablaze by the Spirit — lit up like the Lord — so that more and more we become like mirrors reflecting the glory of God.
……..We have nothing to hide then, and no reason to lose our nerve, for God has been incredibly generous in trusting us with a share of this work. We have sworn off any methods that we’d be ashamed to have brought to light. We don’t hide behind masks; we don’t do anything shifty or manipulative; and we don’t twist God’s word to promote our own agendas. Instead, we simply lay all our cards on the table and let our integrity speak for itself. By stating it plainly and living it openly in the sight of God, we give everyone the opportunity to make up their own minds about the truth.
©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net
Read the bible. What words/ideas stand out? What can we learn from the bible about living the Value: Being honest about who we are?
“We have nothing to hide then, and no reason to lose our nerve. for Go has been incredibly generous in trusting us with a share of this work…” in our current situation this feels like an important reminder – encouraging, challenging and comforting.
“To balance them out and keep my feet firmly on the ground, I have been given a special gift – a real thorn in the flesh…” radical idea to reach for, being grateful for the thing that gives you pain and seeing it as a gift. Thanks… thanks SO much for this pain.
“…failure, bad-mouthing, tough times, harassment, tragedy – I take it all in my stride and just allow Christ to come to the fore” Paul was a bit smug wasn’t he?
Sometimes to try to please people we can try to be something we aren’t but we have to be true to ourselves.
The reference in the passage to the scarf/wool being over our eyes and nothing being able to get through felt like a good excuse to pull out the veil I made – “…wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the freedom to see clearly. The wool is pulled away from our eyes and we come face to face with the glory of God… we are set ablaze… lit up… we become like mirrors reflecting the glory of God.
These layers of the veil represent some of what I need to peel back (expectations, tradition, learned/taught behaviour, fear…) to be living as I was made to be.
What stops us from being able to be transparent?
Activity: The People’s Mike
Drawing on the idea of being one body – what holds you back is what holds me back. The People’s Mike is an exercise in naming and holding together. As people call out words (anyone can have a go), the rest of the people in the crowd repeat the word in chorus affirming the speakers truth (perhaps our own) and confessing our own culpability because what harms you harms me – what is holding us back from being honest about who we are? What are we afraid of? One person calls it out and then we all repeat it together in chorus.
Similarly, what leads one of us to wholeness might lead us all, what makes it easier to be transparent? What helps us to feel ok about being honest about who we are? One person calls it out and then we all repeat it together in chorus affirming the speakers truth (perhaps our own) and calling ourselves into the community we seek to create.
Dear God, we’re waiting
Let us wait with hope
We’re waiting for things to seem clearer
Let us wait with peace
We’re waiting for the world to feel safer
Let us wait with joy
We’re waiting for the love our hearts cry out for
Let us wait with love
May we be kind to one another.
May we strive to be the answers to some of our own questions.