Bragging Rights

Hundreds of thousands of wooden pylons constructed from a type of wood that resists water decay support one of the most famous landmark cities in the world, Venice, Italy.  St. Mark’s Square, The Bridge of Sighs, gondolas and their navigators, the Grand Canal remind us of this unique European treasure.

One of the most famous icons of Venice is one many may not know originated there.

            The mask.

            When we come to Christ, we are invited to take off our mask.  But do we exchange the mask that the world gave us for another mask – the one that says we have to have it all together as a Christian?I whispered into the darkness from a college bunk bed at the age of 20 and asked this God Who Was There to make Himself at home in my broken heart and soul.  A couple of short years later, I decided to forego my major and go on staff with a Christian parachurch organization when I graduated from college. While going through summer staff training, I shared with others at the dinner table about how I came to know Christ, the pain of growing up with an artistically-gifted and beautiful mother who was sometimes mentally ill and the quicksand of emotions our family dealt with, often closing myself behind doors of performance-based expectations.

A teacher interrupted me.
“I wouldn’t share that with too many people. That might be too much information.”  Confusion pulled my soul in opposite directions – self-protected or God-protected?  How could I help others if I was not vulnerable in trusting God with the past?
            In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes this profound verse:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.”
Read it  out loud (I promise, it will only seem strange once.  There is nothing better than speaking the Word wherever we are)!  Do you hear the truth?  When we glory in our weaknesses, Christ’s power rests on us.  Let me say that again.  Christ’s power rests on us.  Strangely and sadly, our culture perverts the truth by telling us that power comes through hiding our shortcomings.  Culture twists this thing called power and goes even further to tell us we must exalt our strengths and play on other’s weaknesses.I don’t know about you, but boasting happily about the weak parts of my character or my life is not a natural thing.  I’ve often played a kind of Christian game with God, myself, and others.  I imagine I’ve appeared pretty foolish to not only God but also to a great number of people.  The more we try to hide our flaws, the more we reveal them.

Paul never details his weakness for us.  Instead, he’s the Paul we know and love and He exalts Christ alone.  We don’t always need to share all the messy details.  We should pray for discernment. But we can draw attention upward by being an example of God’s grace to the imperfect.

Do you send out a Christmas letter?  Have you ever gotten the one that was basically a brag sheet (we could call it a glory sheet as well) and gushed something like this?  ”And my 5 year old Susie got her PhD in Molecular Biology from MIT.  Johnny got a 4.0 and a full-ride scholarship to 1000 universities.” (I may or may not have sent one similar.)  The best Christmas letter we ever received? From a family that listed things like how many pairs of underwear their dachshund ran off with and how many dinners were burned.  Do you know why we loved it?  Because they shared from the imperfect of that place called home and made us laugh in the process.  We could relate.  Whew…mask OFF.  Paul relates that kind of Christmas letter with us.

Breaking the strongholds and chains of our past can only happen when Christ’s power rests on us,  literally in the Greek, His power “tabernacles over us.”  CHRIST is over us.  Because CHRIST IS THE TABERNACLE.  The second half of that verse is almost like a double affirmative.Do you see?

“Christ’s power, Christ on me.”

Christ’s power, Christ on YOU. What chains bind you?  Do you hear them breaking as His holy self covers you?

God broke the chains of my mask. The more that I know and love this God in Three, this God with a personality, the more I trust Him.  And the more I trust Him, the more I know He covers me.  As He covers me, I can reach out to others from the protection of His covering.

Untie the ribbons that hold your mask on.


And glory, sister.  Glory.

 


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