Trudging through ten miles of muddy obstacles at my first Tough Mudder gave me new insight and perspective. But the thing that got my attention more than any of the obstacles was what took place afterwards.
Just imagine hundreds of people caked with mud. Dirty hair. Mud-streaked faces. Once brightly colored outfits now grimy.
Like a herd of cattle, we were ushered to an area where makeshift hoses were available to shower off the mud and dirt. Men and women huddled together, waiting their turn for a hose to begin the transformation from muddy to clean.
With the wind blowing and my body beginning to shiver, I looked around and witnessed something absolutely amazing. People were desperate to get clean. They didn’t care what they looked like. They didn’t care that they were a muddy mess.
Everyone reeked. But two truths were obvious to all:
People accepted the fact they were filthy.
They wanted to get clean.
Nobody appeared to be embarrassed or ashamed of the muddy mess they wore. We were all in this together.
As I watched this group of dirty people coming together to get clean, my eyes were opened to the fact that this was a beautiful picture of what the church of Jesus Christ should look like.
People coming as they are…
All desperate for one thing: To get the dirt off and be washed clean.
Sometimes we Christians come dressed up in our best outfits and put on masks, deceiving others into thinking we have it all together. We often want others to think we are polished and perfect. We hide our mess. We hide our sin. We hide our shame.
We’re dying inside but we tell others I’m fine.
We’re exhausted from the storms of life yet we tell others I’m doing great! Life is good!
Before the living water of Jesus can wash us clean, we have to confess the deadly dirt of self.
Before we can walk in freedom, we have to stop dragging our chains.
Before we can thrive in the body of Christ, we must dive in with humility, admitting our needs.
Come with your mud. Come with your stench. Come as you are. He wants to cleanse you from it all.
This is truly a picture of what the church ought to look like! People coming as they are. Not afraid to come with their dirt. Not ashamed to reek of sin. But humbly receiving the cleansing power of Jesus.
But sadly, many churches today expect you to come cleaned up already. To come with your best dressed outfit. To come with your polished-pretty face. To come with an aroma of sweet-smelling perfume. To come with no trace of sin. No muddy tracks.
This should not be!
That is a description of religion. Not a real relationship with Jesus.
Maybe your image of the church is more like this picture:
Everyone in their best-dressed outfits, clean-cut, having the appearance that everything is perfect.
All the while hiding their mud-streaked, sin stained hearts. Outwardly perfect, inwardly a muddy mess.
How many followers of Jesus Christ are truly living in authentic, transparent relationships? How many are living out the command in James 5:16?
“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
Sitting still in my best-dressed outfit and never sharing my struggles with others doesn’t bring healing!
I’ve got to get up from my comfortable seat, engage in real relationships, and humbly confess my struggles.
Where are you, dear friend? Are you hiding behind a mask? Are you putting on your outwardly best to cover up your very worst? If so, then it’s time to get real. It’s time to come in your mud-streaked dirty-soul clothes. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be ashamed. We are all in this together. Come as you are.
Jesus promises us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I pray the image above will replace any false image in your mind of what the church should look like!
Blessings to you!