June 20, 2022
Imagine you’re coming back from a two-week trip with your suitcase stuffed with dirty laundry.
But somehow your luggage has been damaged in transit, and when you pick it up to head for the parking area, it suddenly flies open, dumping all of that laundry in the middle of a busy airport terminal.
And there you are, scrambling to pick up all of those items—dirty socks, soiled shirts, and crumpled unmentionable—before the curious eyes of passersby.
Our dirty laundry is for our eyes only. We don’t want anybody else checking it out!
I think we sometimes feel the same way as believers. We catch ourselves hanging out a “laundered” version of the Christian life to attract unbelievers into the fold. We play down our problems, gloss over the hardships, throw a cover over the trials and tragedies, stuff our sorrows, and push all our weak or wounded brothers and sisters to the rear.
Oh by all means, keep the dirty laundry stuffed in the suitcase or the laundry bag! Keep it under cover, where an observing world can’t see. We don’t want anyone thinking, “Look how this so-called loving God treats his devoted followers!”
And we certainly don’t want the heartaches, depressions, divorces, and dissensions in our church be ugly stains or embarrassing blotches against God’s good name.
It’s strange when you consider that our Lord Jesus did not seek to avoid the “dirty laundry” of his society. He actually sought out the company of prostitutes, outcasts, and indigents, apparently fearing no harm to God’s reputation.
He claimed responsibility for a man’s blindness, put his arm around the leper, and gave special honor to the weak and the overwhelmed. While studiously avoiding the crisply-laundered Pharisees, Jesus didn’t seem embarrassed to hang out with the rumpled, the crumpled, and the stained.
There was this difference, however. The most obvious way God used suffering to glorify himself back then was to miraculously remove it. Jesus went out restoring sight to the blind, healing to the lepers, life to the dead, and forgiveness to the blatant sinners.
His ministry of healing and restoration captured lots of attention, for sure. Even when the unbelievers and scoffers saw the miracles, they marveled and glorified God.
But what about all the dirty laundry today? Jesus is no longer with us in bodily form, walking the hills of Judea, doing all the things he once did. Today, God has another way of using suffering to glorify himself—a less obvious, but certainly not less powerful way.
Strange as it may seem, and difficult as it may be to accept, God often not allows but actually insures that you and I—his kids—undergo and endure long periods of difficulty, pain, and struggle.
And he lets all this take place within plain view of unbelievers!
But look what happens when these Christians on whom God has sent adversity after adversity refuse to complain. Look what happens when instead of cursing, complaining, and shaking rebellious fists at heaven, they respond with praise to their Creator.
Unbelievers take notice. They see something that, according to all the logical methods of accounting, simply doesn’t add up. They are drawn to this God who inspires such loving loyalty from real people with real problems.
If you and I enjoyed nothing but ease and comfort, our world would never learn anything very impressive about God. It would never learn that God is worth serving—even when the going gets tough.
So let all those “pre-Christians” see what God is doing in your life. Let them identify with your dirty laundry. Don’t hide your heartaches and struggle areas, hypocritically pretending they don’t exist. Instead, concentrate on staying loyal to your God in the midst of them.
It may be the most convincing argument your neighbors ever see or hear about the God you love.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
For unbelievers to see something attractive or compelling about your life and your faith, you have to be close to them. They won’t notice or be moved by your walk with God if you never cross paths with them. Think through your upcoming week.
At what points will you be close enough to men and women outside of Christ to engage them in conversation? Beyond that, what hobbies, classes, clubs, or endeavors could you join that would put you shoulder to shoulder with people who need Jesus? Then let them really see your life—even your dirty laundry.
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