Living in Community Not Competition

Looking out window I see a cluttered up backyard. Trash that has blown in from the street, torn shingles from the shed roof, and a combination of sticks and leaves chocking out the peaking grass buds that are reaching for sunlight. Determined to transform the utter chaos into organization, I start making piles of tree limbs and trash. Hoping to clear up the mess. Feeling like I reached a point of accomplishment I look over the yard and can’t help but feel slightly discouraged. Although the yard looked far better than the initial mess, it was still a mess. No matter how many times I reorganized the craziness of the yard. The mess wasn’t going away.

Just like my backyard, my life can easily hold the shameful trash and destruction caused by sin. I’m quick to hustle to the dirt piles in my heart and make them look presentable. This mentality can manifest in ways that cause me to make excuses for my sin. To act like I have life figured out, and get caught up in an identity that God doesn’t call me into. Like my yard though, the mess in my heart might look a little more tidy than others, but it’s a mess none-the-less. I find it sad that as Christians we can get so caught up in making our messes look less-messier than our neighbors when God has given us neighbors to help us with our messes not compete over them.

The way that Jesus reacts to our cluttered hearts and lives is in grace and justice. While helplessly trying to clean a cluttered backyard I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories in the Bible, Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4). Jesus meets the Samaritan woman in the high heat of the day at noontime, being the only one at the well. The reason she went to retrieve water at the hottest point in day wasn’t because she slept in past her alarm. The Samaritan woman was alone because she had a routine of going to the well when all the other women had left. Her life was so cluttered with mess that she was seen as an out-cast from the other women’s group. Later while Jesus is talking to her He offers her a well that will never run dry.

“Anyone who drink this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14

The Samaritan woman responses in excitement and desire of this never-ending water, not realizing Jesus it talking about eternal life. Then He responses in a table-turning way. Instead of responding in kind and sensitive way that I would expect Jesus to react. He tells her, “Go and get your husband” (John 4: 16). This statement is heart-wrenching to the woman, because she and Jesus know, that she doesn’t have a husband. This is an open wound to the woman’s heart. Jesus pushes even deeper into her insecurities and tells her, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband– for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now” (John 4: 17-18). Jesus just took the microscope to her heart and relieved to her the truth that she knew but couldn’t bring herself to confess. At the well, Jesus put light on the darkest most shameful spots of the woman’s heart. No matter how well she wanted to hide her hurt, pain, and sin. Jesus saw it.

He reacts the same way to our hearts. He sees it. No matter how many excuses, leaves, sticks, trash, and lies we can use to cover our dark spots. Jesus knows, and He wants us to live in a gospel-humble community with one another. Where we shouldn’t be “thinking more of [ourselves] or thinking less of [ourselves], [but] thinking of [ourselves] less” (Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Timothy Keller). In doing this we can create a community of grace, love, growth, forgiveness, and Truth; which might start to look a lot like Jesus and a lot less of our flesh.

The song, “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli has spoken encouragement into my life while deciding to live in confession and freedom.

For another great read on starting fresh for the spring season check out

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