“Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19).
Tim was an active member of the church I served on internship in Ohio. He and his entire family were leaders in the congregation. One thing, however, perplexed me about Tim. While the rest of his family would come to church all dressed up in their Sunday best, Tim showed up Sunday after Sunday in a pair of shorts, an untucked t-shirt, and tennis shoes.
Personally, I don’t care what people wear to worship as worship is a matter of the heart and not of outward appearance. Yet, it seemed to me like Tim was trying to make a statement with his Sunday wardrobe. One week I asked Tim, “So, what’s with the outfit?” Granted, the question surprised Tim, but then he gave me an answer that I have never forgotten. “Monday through Friday, I am a salesman,” Tim explained. “Every morning, I put on a suit and tie. I put on polished dress shoes and slick back my hair. I dress to impress in order to make the sale, but it’s not who I am. This is who I am and church is the one place in my life where I feel free to be exactly who I am without trying to be somebody else.” WOW! Who can argue with Tim’s answer?!
Over these seven weeks of Easter, we are exploring the first readings from the New Testament book of Acts as we discern together what it means to be Christ’s post-Easter community in the world. In this weekend’s reading from Acts 3, Peter, in response to the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, invites his listeners to repent, to turn around, to be honest about their sin and brokenness, to be real about who they are, so that they might live in the full freedom of Christ’s forgiveness.
One of the things that it means to be the church—Christ’s post-Easter community in the world—is to be real. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are free to be real in our relationship with God, in our relationships with one another, and in our relationship with the world. We don’t have to hide who we really are. We can be open and honest about our struggles and disappointments. We can share with one another our failures and our hurts. We can confess to God and to one another those things in our lives that we are ashamed of, knowing and trusting that, in Christ—and in Christ’s church—there is forgiveness, there is mercy, there is grace, for all.
As we live into the NEW community Christ’s death and resurrection frees us to be, I invite you to be who you really are. Let’s be real together. Our lives are not perfect. Our faith is not perfect. The church is not perfect. Only Christ’s forgiveness is perfect. In Christ, we are a NEW community. In Christ, we are forgiven. In Christ, we are real.
Becoming NEW +