it was about three weeks ago. it seemed like any other Sunday going to church.
ji and I have been going to epicentre community church in lincoln heights for several months now. it is a church that actually represents the community it is in. a church of the city. a church of the poor. a church of the broken. even though my family has moved in as outsiders, we have been welcomed as part of the church family and have been so blessed. i am so encouraged every time i go. we still receive so much more than we give.
but people still put on a nice face. you know the face we put on everyday when we go out. it’s not fake…it’s just acceptable. not letting what’s inside show too much on the outside.
so during church service, we break into small groups to share out a bible study of a shared passage (one of the things i really LOVE about this church). the passage is the one where Jesus is being beaten and mocked by a band of soldiers….but he doesn’t lash out…the soldiers get tired. many people share out about how amazing it was how Jesus demonstrated such super-natural self-control in the face of such outright humiliation. He took all the wickedness we could throw at Him…and He absorbed it…to demonstrate His love for us.
then the pastor invited us to stand and pour out all our junk to Him in prayer.
then it happened. one person started confessing his sins in prayer to God…out loud.
in my head i was like: i think this guy misunderstood the directions. we’re supposed to pray on our own, in our own minds to God.
then another man started admitting in prayer the ways he had failed God…again out loud.
then one after another different people began confessing to God the messed up stuff in their lives…all aloud. everyone could hear…the ways people let their anger get the best of them as they took it out on their own children, the ways they were holding onto things that were killing them, the ways they could not forgive, the ways they had thought life would be better without them, the ways they didn’t trust in God and had turned to other things. the ways we need God to heal us of our brokenness.
i was just in silent awe.
God had shown up.
how else can i explain that, in the very place where most people expect the greatest hypocrisy, people were exposing the ugliest parts of themselves…people were being REAL…to a room full of people (many who they do not know)…of their own free will?
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” – 1 Corinthians 4:5