There are a lot of ways to express love, and showing up is a big one.
Plus God said this: “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12) Isn’t that the nicest possible thing? There is plenty to indicate that Moses’ reluctance was working God’s LAST NERVE. Still: “I will be with you.”
That is a very important reason to be ourselves. God is with us. He wants to be with us. If we are not ourselves, with whom is he spending time? Somebody like Moses, who couldn’t stop talking about his stutter and his I’m-not-good-enoughs, which is all a little bit sounding like code for “Get away from me. You want to be with me, but I am afraid to be what you are asking me to be. Even if the heavy lifting is on you.”
It is interesting to me that the apostle Paul was the one to say that incredible die-to-self line. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
First of all, Paul had an inordinately strong sense of self.
His tenacity in killing Christians was unprecedented before his conversion. His tenacity to further the church was unprecedented after his conversion. He changed, no question, but what was the same on both sides of that conversion coin was this: Paul knew himself and he was willing to be himself, thorns and all.
Imagine if he had tried to bend in order to fit in with the other religious crew at the time, like Peter. Peter, as much as anyone, needed Paul to be Paul. Paul made Peter a better man.
Even with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Peter struggled. A castigating call-out from Paul right there in front of all Peter’s pals was a pivotal growth moment for Peter. It was a crucial redirection for the formation of the church. Otherwise, the church might have turned into an elitist colony of subtle legalists—what a disaster that would have been.
Iron on iron, aptly handled, is love. Even, and sometimes especially, when we are sharpening ourselves.
If what the world needs now is love sweet love, then it is good to understand what it is about us that God loves anyway. Yes, he formed us in the image of himself and he wants us to be conformed to his image. But not at the expense of taking responsibility for an extremely, sometimes excruciatingly, emotional message from a God to people that goes like this: “Is this personal to you? This is personal to me.”