God the Father is a god that drudged through the filth. Through the mud. Through the mire of the earth. He is a god that has crawled next to me through the slime of sin. Through the muck of shameful desire. He is a god that was saddened and felt the hurt of loneliness and depression. God the Father followed me down the dirty, oozing path. He was there when I slammed into the hard rock bottom of the pit. Waiting for me. Waiting to wrap me up.
That's the God of the Bible. God isn't an old, jolly grandfather, sitting in his armchair looking down at his children and grandchildren on the earth, enjoying their successes and lamenting at their failures. God is down in the trenches, experiencing the filth of the earth, intrenched in the sewage of our lives. Why do we have the notion that God is looking down on us from above, silently observing our failures and listening to our pleas for redemption? That isn't God. God became like us, becoming poor and filthy, suffering from the worst temptations man can experience, writhing in mental anguish so deep, blood sweated from his pores. God experienced pain so deep, we can't fantasize what it felt like. And yet we treat God like bystander to our sins. Someone who doesn't really understand the pain. Someone who only listens to our troubles, but promises relief one day. Certainly God listens to our troubles and promises relief. But it's not sympathy God gives. It's empathy. God understands and feels our pain. Because he felt it himself. He feels it. Our pain is like a pin prick to the finger compared to the pain he feels.
A good friend recently gave me a great quote: "The world has got bigger problems than you and your sins." That seems harsh, but it's true. And it shouldn't seem harsh. It should be comforting. God has followed us through the disgustingness of our lives, one by one, and that shame we've been hiding in the darkest corners of our soul, God holds that in his hands. He holds all of it. That drop of mud is among the sins of all the world. God can handle our crap. It can never be too much for God to handle, because he holds the entire world's crap.
And such is the grace of God. No amount of filth, no level of disgustingness can ever be too much for the grace of God to cover. Only God can wash the filth off his hands. He washed the filth with his blood. His blood covers every speck of grime. Think about that. God's blood covers your filth, my slime, my neighbor's grime, the worst sinner's disgustingness. Only God can follow every single person that's ever lived down their paths of crap. He's not "your personal savior." He's the grace greater than all the crap of the world.
The moment we stop thinking of Jesus as the God of the cross who died for MY sins and instead think of him as the God of the cross who covered the filth of ALL the world held in his hands is the moment we realize God can handle our darkest sins and deepest secrets.
And in that moment, we realize we aren't alone. Not only has God been with us throughout the entire process, but we realize there are countless others who struggle with the same things we struggle with, but were too ashamed to admit. We become part of a community. A community based on confession. On forgiveness. On sacrifice. On worship. On sorrow. On praise. On encouragement.
I'm afraid our churches haven't been this. I know mine haven't been. And it's my own fault. I haven't allowed myself to join such a community. My Christian life has been extremely selfish. I haven't let anybody in to my struggles, therefore I've been ignorant of others' struggles. How can we love other people if we are selfish? Do we even consider the physical, mental, spiritual sufferings of others? How can we reach out to the poor, the marginalized, the helpless, the lost when we aren't willing to share in each other's sufferings?
Community. It's time we joined one. It's time we opened our eyes and realized the world around us is struggling. It's time we realize God isn't comfortably watching us with pity from his armchair up in heaven, but is holding all the filth of the world in his hands. It's time we stop being so selfish and sharing in each other's pain and struggles.
"Brothers and sisters, we have confidence that we can enter the holy of holies by means of Jesus' blood, through a new and living way that he opened up for us through the curtain, which is his body, and we have a great high priest over God's house. Therefore, let's draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us, since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. Let's hold on to confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. Let's also think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works. Don't stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near."