Our guest blogger today is The Rev’d Ellis Brust. Ellis is the Lead Pastor and church planter of Epiphany: a community of Light, Love and Expectation in Mission Viejo, CA
VENEER TO VULNERABILITY
Every culture has a veneer it tries to hide behind; the “tough” New Yorker, the “independent” Texan, the “polite” Southerner, the Brit with a “stiff upper lip.” I live in Southern California where the veneer is image. To project the right image you have to dress right (for the beach, Hollywood or even as a church planter), drive the right car, live in the right zip code, go to the right places to be seen by the right people, keep your body fit (by whatever means necessary), your hair blonde and do it all in a laid back “Dude, I’m keepin’ it real” way. You’ll never see chipped paint or a dying plant at Disneyland – the “image” veneer is really that important.
As Christ-followers, we’re called to a different way of living. We’re supposed to be authentic, genuine and vulnerable in a way which gets behind the veneer to the real person – because we follow a Savior who gives us strength through His true vulnerability. Veneer removal begins in the heart, in the quiet of our lives – even learning to not take ourselves so seriously. When we humbly allow God to pull away the façade and remove the layers of veneer from our own lives we really become someone He can use to genuinely engage the people He has asks us to love and serve in His name.
Think about Paul; a man who had all the veneers of power and privilege. He was educated, a Pharisee and Roman Citizen; but a major life change happened on the Damascus road. Years later he was writing from a prison about the strength of trusting everything in his life to Jesus, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Major life changes are one way God gets our attention to go from veneer to vulnerability. In these we learn to have faith and trust that He is God and will do what He says He will do.
My family and I recently moved from South Carolina to Southern California to church plant – a major life change. A move of this magnitude has a catalytic way of revealing the veneers which God would remove and opening one to the grace found in authentic vulnerability before the Lord and those we serve in His name. But, you don’t have to move across the country and plant a church to rip away veneers and seek to be genuinely vulnerable in your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Every day God desires to transform and make us new by His grace, love and mercy. An authentic witness to others in your life begins by asking God to remove those things which would hide the authentic you. From veneer to vulnerability – this is the way to let Christ’s light shine through you daily.
Have you ever thought about the veneers in your life? As I said, every culture has a veneer (and probably two or three here in SoCal – I’m the church planter behind the Ray Bans, with my shirt tail out and hair gel). How would a life without all those veneers change the way you interact with others? From veneer to vulnerability, think about it a life genuinely, authentically free of veneers and simply being the person Jesus made you to be, so others can know the God you love. From veneer to vulnerability.