Naked Before God: In Community

There’s a title you don’t see every day!

Up to this point we have been discussing being naked before God in our own personal worship, individually; just God and you. This can and should be a wonderful time, regularly observed. Yet it is not the end of matter by a long stretch; rather, it is the beginning. God made humanity for community, and His purpose and will is that this community would be in fellowship with Him, thus becoming His very expression of who and what He is; we saw quite clearly in our examination of His image that this was His intention from the very beginning.

For most of us however, it is one thing to be naked before God in privacy and safety, but it is quite another thing to be naked before one another in any sense of the term. Certainly in the literal physical sense of the term, the notion of baring all in front of others is simply outside the scope of what is even thinkable or acceptable, and you will no doubt be relieved to learn that I have no intention of going there, for that is entirely too simplistic and hardly scratches the surface.  You see, this isn’t a matter of simply baring body; it’s a matter of baring soul, of being real, genuine and letting people see who we really are. It is about trusting, caring and loving others in a way that allows us to put their interests ahead of our own, not just in word, but in deed.

Last week, paulfg commented on one of these posts that he saw for the first time that “naked” actually means “relationship”, and I thought that was a very wise and insightful observation, for that is what it really comes down to. Yet it isn’t just relationship, it goes deeper, to the quality of the relationship. Recall that for us to be naked before God means that our relationships with Him are intimate, open, no holds barred, with everything out in the open. There is no holding back, no attempts to deceive and no barriers of any kind. To be naked before God in community with other believers is that there is the same level of openness between us and the others as there is between us and God, and obviously, such a human community requires that there be many who have matured enough in their relationships with God to be able to handle this level of intimacy with other people.

This dear reader is what it means to make disciples; it begins with godly love.

Far too many Christians are under the mistaken impression that making disciples is little more than making “converts”, but nothing could be further from the truth. Making disciples is really the ultimate act of love in action wherein we lovingly guide another into the kind of maturity that will enable them to become makers of disciples themselves. One who “makes” disciples is a mentor, a teacher, a trainer, and most of all, an example. He or she is one who can share the love of God and love of others in a way that brings their younger brother or sister into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. That person is one who loves, shares and leads others, he or she is one who lets their guard down, who respects, who trusts, who sets ego aside for the benefit of others and who lives in such a level of transparency before both Man and God, that they inspire the legitimate trust of others; they are naked before God and in community with others.

To be honest with you, most of us haven’t quite attained the ideal we’ve been talking about here. Most of our churches are not doing as well as we’d like, many are shrinking, others may even be on life support. Many have left “church” behind, and are happy to share a litany of complaints about churches they used to attend. We can come up with a long list of possible causes for this sort of thing, yet most of our lists, while accurate, don’t really tell the story. They will speak of over reliance on traditions, forms and details, but these are only the symptoms; the causes of the problems run much deeper than that. If I might be so bold, the biggest problem in American (and I suspect other) churches today is that there are not enough people who are really naked before God, needless to say, there are even fewer who are “naked” in community. I’m not sure about you, but I think this is worth getting into next time.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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17 Responses to Naked Before God: In Community

  1. pipermac5 says:

    That is a big reason why I question the wisdom of ordaining and installing a new pastor who is under forty. Even if they have all the right “credentials”, they don’t have the life-experience to be a good pastor, because being a pastor is way more than just standing up every Sunday and preaching. Even though I have said that if I had known how much joy being a pastor brings thirty years ago, I would have become a pastor back then, but I was way too immature to be a good pastor. No church needs or deserves a “still wet behind the ears” pastor. I have had to get beaten up a LOT to grow into the man I am today, but I still don’t feel “qualified”. Yes, I know that “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”.

    Blessings!

    Steve

  2. Pingback: Naked Before God: In Community | A disciple's study

  3. paulfg says:

    When you said – ages back – that you saw this topic developing, I wondered how. With this post – and the move form personal to community … now I am hooked line and sinker! This is great stuff, Don. Thank you.

  4. Matt Brumage says:

    YES! But in theory. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this played out in a congregation of any sort. I think it’s developing in a small group I lead, but it’s been three years, and we’re only barely there. I want it, but I’m also terrified by the very idea. Physically and spiritually, I’m rather pare-shaped. That’s not an image I’m comfortable with being “revealed” to any sort of group. But is the answer going to the ‘gym’ first or is it jumping in and being cleaned in community? I’m not sure I’m part of a community where jumping in to be cleaned would be accepted, permitted, or possible without horror. Would that be part of the maturing process? Let me come up with some more metaphors and get back to you on it.

  5. daylerogers says:

    Being fully exposed is scary! And that’s what happens in community–you choose to be there for all to see. Which opens us (not necessarily invites) comments. I think you’re spot on with your insights on the lack of these folks in churches. Being exposed, vulnerable, can cause us to lose respect or admiration in the eyes of others. Which then begs the question–who are we looking to please in the first place? If it’s God, there should be no fear. But I’ll own my own fear here–people can be mean. This really is a wonderfully thought provoking post, Don. Thanks so much for opening a can of naked worms!

  6. vlmrhm says:

    Well stated. It is sad so many churches in America are hurting so many people. I can only say it is because leaders in the church do not have an authentic relationship with Christ. The “love” relationship where Christ circumcises our hearts, that helps us become more like him.

  7. Reblogged this on Living for Freedom and commented:
    This is so correct. Discipleship is what is missing from today’s church. We have to get real or naked with God first then we must get real or naked with others and disciple them into a fiery relationship with Jesus. Matthew 28:19-20 says it all go into the whole world and reach everyone and make the disciples.

  8. This is so correct. Discipleship is what is missing from today’s church. We have to get real or naked with God first then we must get real or naked with others and disciple them into a fiery relationship with Jesus. Matthew 28:19-20 says it all go into the whole world and reach everyone and make the disciples.

  9. Pingback: Naked Before God: In Community – Living for Freedom

  10. Pingback: “Naked Before God: In Community” 4/29/2016 Posted by Don Merritt | God's group

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