The dog at the end of my street is friendly. Well, at least that’s what some kid told me.
I have my doubts.
While the kid was telling me all about animal friendliness, that dog had a look on his face sort of like a young Ozzy Osbourne might have while gazing at a winged creature. My kid was standing next to me, scared to death. I told him not to worry because the dog wouldn’t bother him.
Judging by the look on my kid’s face, he had his doubts.
A few days later, my morning run took me by that house. You know, the one with the friendly dog. As I ran by, he came out to tell me good morning. Nice and loud. He was even kind enough to chase me a little. On the way back, he wanted to say hello again. This time he showed me his teeth while saying it with a growl. But this time, I had a stick. A really nice stick. An Old Testament stick. It helped to keep the dog from being so, well, friendly.
People have a way of hiding the ugly truth. No one ever says that their dog is an annoying nuisance to society that would be better off if it were shipped to some glue factory.
And the same is true of the human heart.
It’s like we are in a never ending theatrical performance where our job is to convince others, ourselves and even Jesus that we really are just fine.
But Jesus sees through the performance.
One day he sat down with a lady from the wrong side of the tracks. A lady with a past. A lady that wanted to keep that past a secret. A genuine performance artist.
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”
“I’m just fine, Jesus! Nothing to see here. How about some water?”
Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” John 4:16-18 (ESV)
Jesus could have ended the conversation with that gotcha moment and continued on his way. In fact, he could have avoided the conversation all together. But instead he kept talking.
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” John 4:25-26 (ESV)
And then something happened to the woman. Her theatrical performance had come to an end.
So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” John 4:28-29 (ESV)
The woman that wanted to hide everything was now celebrating the fact that a man cared enough to look beyond her act.
The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus sees through our performance to the very core of our heart. Warts and all, as they say. And he has every right to simply walk away. But instead, he showed his love for us by laying down his life for our sins.
We never truly appreciate the love of Christ until we grasp the depth of our sin.
People like to say things like, “We are all God’s children” or “God is a friend of us all.” But nothing could be further from the truth. These are just lines from the theatrical performance.
Apart from Christ, we are not friendly with God. We are children of wrath who fight against him.
But in Christ, we are no longer enemies with God.
In Christ, we are God’s children.
In Christ, warts and all, God calls us his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:14-15 (ESV)