Is It Difficult to Live Authentically in Community?

Two Roads : Two Faces : Two Gods : Two Solutions : Two Healings : Two Friends : Two Destinies : Two Roads Two Rooms Message


What is the Connection Between Humility and Trust?



Chapter Six: Two Friends

1. 1 John 1:5-7: “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (NASB). There are several remarkable observations one can make about this passage, but let’s just concentrate on a few. First, John does not say that if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with him. But isn’t that what we would have expected? Of course, we have fellowship with him if we’re walking in the light. The unexpected thing—the really astonishing thing—is that we can now have fellowship with one another! Furthermore, that is the natural result of walking with him in the light. As if that were not enough of a surprise, John goes on to say that this walking-in-the-light-fellowshipping process also results in the blood of Jesus continuing to cleanse us from all sin (the present tense of the verb indicates a durative—an ongoing—aspect to it). In other words, walking in the light—with nothing hidden—results in genuine fellowship and in a continuous cleansing that is based upon Christ’s finished work on Calvary.

2. See, for example, Colossians 1:9-13. This extended passage, apart from being one often cited by those who advocate pleasing God over trusting God, clearly indicates that God has “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (NASB). Paul goes on to say that God “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (NASB). Somehow God has changed us so profoundly that we have actually changed realms! The one to whom we owe fealty has changed. We used to be a part of Satan’s kingdom; now we are a part of Christ’s. That sounds like a good deal more than something that is “merely forensic.” It sounds like an actual change of nature.

3. Romans 7:14, 18, 21.

4. 1 Peter 5:5 talks about clothing ourselves with humility toward one another. Few things are as indicative of true humility as allowing ourselves to be seen—really seen—by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Allowing oneself to be seen “warts and all” indicates one’s willingness to trust others to protect one’s weaknesses. Anything else, it can be argued, is pretense—or lack of humility. And, as Peter reminds us, that is called “pride.” “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

5. Once again, see Galatians 3:1-3.

6. John 13:34-35.

7. 1 John 4.19.

8. John 3:16, probably the best-known verse in the New Testament, illustrates the truth of this. It says, “God so loved the world that he gave …” The little word translated “so” here does not mean “so much,” although that is how most read and understand it. It actually means, “in this manner; in this way.” In other words, John says that God loved the world in this way, that He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. God saw our crying need—that we stood already condemned (see verse 18) before the Holy God. He loved us in that he gave his only Son to meet that need.

9. Joseph R. Cooke, Free For The Taking: The Life-changing Power of Grace (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1975), p. 7.


The Great Wall

As an adult, Louise invested years designing and building one of the more exquisite self-protection structures around. She says, “I built the Great Wall of China.” But, behind this formidable wall, those relentless Inevitable Effects ultimately wore her out. When she could take no more, Louise started asking questions, and a friend began walking with her down the trail of Trusting God. Louise admitted her needs and that they would never be met unless she learned to receive love. In time, she began trusting who God says she is, and that ushered her right into The Room of Grace.
Not long after that, Louise began realizing the central role trust would continue to play in her healing and maturity. She learned the fundamental truth behind step four: The degree to which I let you love me is the degree to which you can love me, no matter how much love you have for me. That ­wouldn’t have been a problem for Louise, except the “let” requires trust! We cannot let another person love us unless we trust the person.
People who are unable to trust will never experience love. Ever. One ­can’t find a way through that particular cul-de-sac. Despite the years of abuse, Louise avoided that lonely life, because she learned to entrust herself to God and others. If anyone had reason never to trust again, it was Louise. But, she let ­people love her and her needs began to be met in a profound way. Grace, when it is conceived in trust, begets astonishing resolution, healing, maturity, and powerful influence.
Many ­people who deeply want to be loved are not loved, because they ­won’t turn that doorknob of Humility—“trusting God and others with me.” They stand out in the cold, outside The Room of Grace, in pain (and blame) because ­people ­don’t love them. But, ­Louise’s life demonstrates this truth: The ­people God wants to use to love you deeply and to meet your needs stand right on the other side of that door. Turn the knob.
There’s another dimension of receiving love that ­Louise’s story illustrates. Step five says, “I let you love me on your terms, not mine.” When Louise was first learning to receive love, she demanded that ­people do this or buy that or serve her in the way she deemed best. But, as she matured in receiving love, she realized that submitting to others to meet her needs required that she let them discern how to address her needs. In learning to receive love, we cannot forget that others are the ones with the strengths that can meet our needs. We are the ones with both the needs and the inability to meet them. Learning to let others love us on their terms is part of what it means to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
If, despite our need for acceptance and ­­people’s moves to include us, we continually reject them because we want them to meet our needs on our terms, we will remain unloved and in the darkness of our unresolved sin. We cannot experience ­another’s acceptance, love, or guidance unless we let that person give us these things.
Will others meet our needs perfectly and will we trust perfectly? No. This is The Room of Grace, remember? “Grace is the face love wears, when it meets imperfection.” Learning to love perfectly or trust perfectly is not the point; rather, ­it’s learning to receive love. We ­can’t wait for perfect ­people before we trust ­people. ­That’s like standing in line at the DMV without a number and expecting prompt service. It ­ain’t gonna happen!
Further, when we on the basis of trust receive ­God’s perfect love for us, it pushes away our fear and teaches us to embrace the love that heals our wounds. In The Room of Good Intentions, where self-protection rules, we put everything in jeopardy—our healing, our maturing, and our reason for being on this earth. But in The Room of Grace we have learned that God ­won’t let us down, even when others do. When they turn away, we remember he ­won’t. ­He’s our safety net. ­He’s got our back. Trusting God frees us to move into these relationships. Trusting God frees our hearts to experience his safe, constant, intimate sufficiency. Louise would tell you that this solid strength of trusting God—who ­can’t let us down—allows us to move toward others in love despite the risk. And that propels us into a different dimension of living.


The Path

Trusting God is the path that leads us into The Room of Grace where we gradually receive the supreme gift of grace—love. If we have spent our lives building walls of self-protection, it will take time and trust for us to unwrap this gift. But when we receive love—when we are loved—we feel fulfilled. Love completely satisfies our longings, ambitions, and potential. God, the ultimate fulfiller, invites us to trust him. Those who hang out very long in The Room of Grace always experience too much love to return to a life without such a gift.
What does this new way of living do to a person? For those ­who’ve never or rarely experienced it before, it is nothing short of miraculous. Others can actually see a real and lasting difference. Wives look at their husbands, shake their heads, and ask, “Who are you, and where has my husband gone?” Received love turns frightened pretenders into confident dreamers. It even turns violent lions into humble and tender receivers of love.
Maybe pain is the reason you are reading this book. You know something is wrong and ­don’t know how to fix it. Maybe you know you are hurting others and ­don’t know how to stop. Maybe your pain is the absence of peace. Maybe your pain is the worst type of all—the pain of hiding, isolated in a private world where love cannot penetrate.
Centuries ago, as legend has it, an escaped slave named Androcles fled into a forest where he wandered upon a loudly growling lion. Androcles started to run, but when he noticed that the lion did not pursue him, he turned around and slowly approached it. At that point the lion lifted out its paw, swollen and bleeding. Androcles immediately saw the source of the pain—a huge thorn had buried itself deep within the ­lion’s paw. With great courage, knowing that the removal of the thorn would temporarily increase the ­lion’s pain and possibly incite it to attack, Androcles removed the thorn and bound up the paw. When he finished, the lion licked Androcles’ hand like a dog and took the young man to its cave. Every day the lion would bring meat to him.
Then, one day, both Androcles and the lion were captured. Their captors decided to withhold food from the lion for several days, and when it was good and hungry, they would throw Androcles to the lion to be eaten. When the appointed day arrived, the emperor and his court came to witness the spectacle. Androcles was led into the middle of the arena and the lion was loosed from its cage. Immediately the lion roared at its victim—but then recognized a friend. The lion stopped and leaned into Androcles, rubbed its face against the young ­man’s, and then licked his hand again, like a dog. Shocked, the emperor summoned Androcles, who recounted the entire story. The emperor set Androcles free and returned the lion to its home in the forest.
As beautiful as this fable is, it is not even close to the beauty we can find when we allow others to love us. Andrea, our close friend, was not unlike the lion. Brilliant, well-read, shrewd, and intimidatingly competent, Andrea always made you feel like back-pedaling in her presence. John says, “I always felt if I were to make a mistake or say something uninformed in her presence, ­I’d be instantly and forever labeled, and then banished by her into the huddled masses of the dim-witted. ­I’d politely try to answer her questions, sounding more like a politician behind in the polls than myself. She was strong, sharp-tongued, blunt, and overwhelming.”
We had no way of knowing that ­Andrea’s paw had been swollen and bleeding for some time. She was simply trying to find out, in her own way, if we would answer her gruffness in kind, or if we could help pull out her thorn. We provided Andrea with an environment of acceptance, affirmation, protection, and truth, and this environment helped her feel safe. Along with others in our community, we saw Andrea as a saint—a saint with claws, to be sure, but still a saint! Yes, sometimes her claws hurt us, but ­that’s what happens when we live in The Room of Grace. Grace-givers understand this. After all, Jesus, who was full of grace and truth, took all of our pain on himself so that we could be healed.17
For several months, ­Andrea’s pain drove her to seek out several of us to whom she could bare her ­heart’s pain. Her world ­wasn’t working. Her mask-of-choice caused her to feel lonely and unloved. She could not receive the love we offered her. But this lioness had the courage to humble her heart and dared to trust some fallible and fragile ­people to do what she could not do for herself—meet her deep need for security, for dependency, for hope. At first, ­Andrea’s requests for help were clumsy. After all, this was unfamiliar territory for her. But it made her story all the more lovely to those of us who knew and loved her.
Because of her humble choice to receive love, Andrea now lets others love her. It is hard to believe she is the same woman! Losing none of her competency, she has become a lover of others and a playful friend who laughs often and cries freely. We feel safe around her and have known her continual affirmation and trust.
Andrea is a powerful woman who travels in powerful circles. But if we are ever pitted against each other in the arena, we know Andrea will look into our eyes, lean into us, and rub her face against ours—no matter how great the pressure or how hungry she is in the pain of what sin has done against her. Andrea is fulfilled in love, and now she has enough for others, which leads us to the final step.