Engaging The Ugly

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Have you ever sat and pondered what brings value to art?

What actually makes it expensive?

How is the term “masterpiece” bestowed up a piece of art? If at the end of the day, it’s just canvas and oils or watercolors or pencils, it can’t be the visible elements that make up the piece. Those are the same regardless. No doubt, a piece of art gains value because of the artist. Hang with me and hold onto this thought for a minute.

My husband and I are approaching ten years of marriage this fall. While we are so happy to celebrate this milestone, all around us marriages are beginning to crumble. Affairs filled with the most shocking details seem to be pulling ahead as the social norm, while addictions to drugs, alcohol and pornography are trailing close behind. People are riddled with anxiety and suffocating with depression. Abuse of every kind. Children are making choices their parents never dreamed for them.

No doubt some of you are reading this with your hand cupped over your mouth, aghast at the very thought of some of these things demanding, “who?? Certainly not anyone I know.” It’s ugly, but it’s true and it’s playing out up and down the rows of our churches.

But what are we doing about this?

And by “we,” I mean us – the Church – the people of Jesus? You? Me? What are we doing about this? What are we doing when the circumstances of others are ugly, simply uncomfortable or different from ours? How are we tangibly being the hands and feet of Jesus?

I can’t help but stare straight into the story of Jesus with the woman at the well from John 4. I’m captivated. Jesus was tired and went to rest at a well.

Can’t we all relate?

Tired and just needing a minute of our own to gain our thoughts, rest our eyes or simply get a drink. Then comes along a Samaritan woman. And not just any Samaritan woman. This was THE Samaritan woman of her time. You know the kind – the one whose story is ugly and awkward. The one whose reputation preceded her, whose circumstances are so chaotic and uncomfortable. But do you know the best part of this story? The best part is that Jesus engaged her. He could’ve pulled the “tired and busy card” and we all would’ve understood. But He didn’t. He chose to engage. Why? He saw her as a masterpiece. He spoke life into her choices and called her to higher, better and more satisfying things – Himself.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are His workmanship, His masterpiece. He gives us value. Apart from our Artist, Jesus, we’re as worthless as oils and canvas still sitting on the shelf. But He takes these elements and creates in us a masterpiece, even weaving in the chaos of our choices and our circumstances to make beauty. He creates good works and opportunities for us to engage and walk out. He creates assignments.

You see we’re all one choice away from being that Samaritan woman. From being the person whose story holds words like affair or addiction or anxiety. But when we take the time to reflect on the reality of who we are apart from Jesus, it’s sobering. We weren’t just bad, we were dead. All of us. And the blood of Jesus didn’t make us good or even better versions of ourselves – it made us ALIVE! You can’t keep that to yourself! Moving from death to life in Jesus should spur us all on to live out the reality of Jesus in our lives with fervor, to engage the world around us, sharing the beauty of His workmanship. Not portraying perfection. No one needs to see perfection. The world is dying to see something that’s real and Someone that’s lasting and satisfying.

“People don’t care to meet our Jesus until they meet the reality of our Jesus.” – Lysa Terkeurst

Here’s the question that begs to be asked :: are we following this model – Jesus’ model with the woman at the well? Are we engaging the people God chooses to send across our paths? Are we seeing people as people? Looking in their eyes, listening to their story – engaging them? Sometimes engaging is simply saying, “Oh I’m so sorry. Can I pray with you right now?” And sometimes, it’s walking with them through the ugly seasons, just being there, praying, encouraging, and being the light of Jesus to hurting, needy people.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

Friends, let’s don’t loose our usefulness. This world desperately needs Jesus, for His Church to rise up and be His hands and feet. To engage the ugly. To share our stories of Jesus’ faithfulness. Let’s engage with a humble, willing and bold “YES,” knowing He who called us is faithful (1 Thess. 5:24). He will give us all we need. Thank you Jesus!

1 Comment

  1. Oh Sarah!
    YES! YES! YES!
    Thank you for this precious and challenging word! We NEED more than ever to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken world. Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this and calling us to be more like Christ!
    Big hugs to you!


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