The following is a guest post by Gary Taylor, followed by some comments from me:
#Journal entry while at Madeira beach – March 17, 2011
The beach, for some strange cultural reason, is an acceptable place to display ugliness. 100% of the people around me on this beach chose to wear a bathing suit that reveals 99% of the ugliest, saggiest, most bulbous parts of their body.
I’m not pointing fingers. I, too, expose my pasty-white, less-than-pretty. Yet we all seem to accept it. At the beach, it’s OK.
I wonder if Jesus, walking this earth today, would plant a church at the beach. Not so His congregants could wear swimsuits and sunglasses, but so His church could be a place where it’s acceptable to admit our inner ugliness rather than hide it.
Think of it this way: Isn’t the guy who sticks out at the beach the one dressed head-to-toe? Imagine a guy, lying face-up on a beach towel, while wearing a suit, dress socks and shoes, tie snugged up against his Adam’s apple. Strange, right?
Yet too often in too many churches, the person who sticks out – and risks getting kicked out – is that person who dares expose their ugliness. Church is most often the place where we cover up the most. I’m fine. And you?
I notice here at the beach that there really isn’t a unique ugly – we share a common ugly; bellies lapped over waistlines, rolling love handles, dimpled cellulite, sagging buttocks. This describes every one of us.
To attend Jesus’ Beach Church, I believe we’d be pleasantly surprised to find common ugliness, similar struggles. I’m not saying we should highlight our sagging sinfulness, or be proud of our hideous habits. But wouldn’t it be good to let “even those areas” get exposed to the kinder graces of the Son?
That’s why I think Jesus came – and died — to start a new church, a beachy church, filled with gritty, sandy followers who aren’t there to impress others or to dress up the persistent ugliness clinging to heart and mind.
There are no physically perfect people today at the beach. None of us even close, to be honest. Yet our imperfections didn’t keep us from showing up at the beach.
It shouldn’t keep us from showing up for Jesus either.
Glyn: I love that. In fact I’m about to head to the beach today, so it’s a relevant post.
I do have days when I look around, and to me, everyone seems beautiful. These days tend to happen when I’ve had a good night’s sleep, and I’m feeling peaceful and loving.
I wonder on this Good Friday how Jesus sees us. As Gary points out, we certainly do have the ugliness of sin about us. The cross is ugly. The torture that Jesus endured is ugly. It’s not a pretty scene.
But in the midst of that ugliness, there is beauty. When he paid the price for our sin, our ugliness was erased as we were clothed in the robes of his righteousness.
As the temple curtain is torn in two, we can run back into the arms of our heavenly Father.
Our sadness replaced with joy, our ashes with beauty.
And through the lens of the cross, every one of us is beautiful.
It’s a strange paradox, Good Friday. Where the beauty of God’s love collides with the ugliness of our sin… and beauty wins.
Please join us for our service at 7pm tonight.