Consider me highly blessed. I have a beautiful, respectful and a wonderful girlfriend. The phrase, “I have never seen anybody like her” is not a cliché to me, but a daily reality. Like Eddie Murphy in Coming to America, I can honestly sing with gusto and verve Jackie Wilson’s To Be Loved.
Someone to care, someone to share, lonely hours and moments of despair. To be loved, to be loved! Oh, what a feeling, to be loved!
The best thing I love about Princess is she encourages me to grow spiritually. Nothing is more honorable than having someone in life who has grown where you are going and going where you are grown. It is only then mutual spiritual growth become evident. I found a girl who is not a hindrance to my faith, but a catalyst for my honest pursuit of the righteousness of God.
At first glance,Princess and I are not the perfect couple. We are like oranges and lemons. More like Abigail and David. Remember Abigail was married to a fool called Laban before, and David was the shining armor of Israel, a king elect.
An ugly past can make today ugly, but it doesn’t have to
Humanly speaking, Princess has a much dirtier past than me, so it seems. True to her open and considerate nature, she never hid her past from me. God rescued her from an ugly past. I wanted honesty and faithfulness to be the foundation of our relationship, so I told her my past. Only then did we start dating.
For the first couple of weeks I began sensing a negative vibe. There was something troubling by the way she conducted and presented herself. She had not fallen in the old ways, rather she was no longer her redeemed cleansed and renewed old self.
Princess was carrying a burden in her heart and it was weighing her down. Not only herself, but our relationship too. I noticed she wanted acceptance. Like David, I was the ‘good guy’ with an honorable history and Princess thought if she could be like me then I would love her. Princess thought if her goodness does not match with mine, I would not accept her. Isn’t that the same way we treat Jesus?
I remember telling her that you not open with me. She kept reclined in her cocoon like a timid turtle. I love Princess and I know she meant well in her pretense, so I needed God’s grace to rescue her from the fear of the past or whatever was holding her back.
Legalism is the root of hypocrisy
As I thought and sought God about it, I realized we had based our relationship on the wrong foundation – doing right. There is nothing wrong about doing the right thing, except it excludes Christ from the relationship. It seemed we had silently made avoiding the sins of the past the objective of our relationship. We denied Christ’s gift of grace through concealing shame by avoiding sin and covering guilt by doing right. We had it all figured out, so it seems.
The law approach to relationships planted a wedge between Princess and me. We needed a grace, desperately. It was time to strip down all our clothes of self-righteousness and graciously receive the holiness of God. Only the grace of God could liberate us from the burden of trying to earn acceptance without fear of rejection. Christ’s grace is available to the weak, so I had to throw away my perfect history and embrace nothingness.
I was legalistic in our relationship. Like a fastidious high school English Composition teacher, I monitored all her actions. I was controlling and performance oriented. Doing anything I hated was a recipe for a thorough spiritual rebuke. She could not be herself because of my ungodly attitude. I tried to protect our relationship by setting unreasonable expectations.
Grace liberates and clothes us with glory
After writing this post, Edmond asked if Princess could write about what she felt in our relationship. I sent her a message with Edmond’s request and she was gracious enough to respond.
I was scared. I thought if I do not show Marve that I have changed, he would end our relationship. I was afraid of being rejected, if Marve thought I was not good enough for him.
To be ‘good enough’ I had to be a perfect girlfriend. I had to do only the stuff I thought he would approve of. In every conversation, I avoided any form of confrontation or argument. At least that way, I thought Marve could see I was ‘good enough’.
Not being myself around the person I love the most was an unbearable burden. It wore me out like an overused shoe.
One day, Marve told me we had been approaching our relationship the wrong way. We were using the legalistic approach, so we ended up being hypocrites. Marve said it was time we embrace God’s grace and the only way was to throw away our self-righteousness and receive the holiness of God.
Finally, I was free to be myself. I was no longer afraid of my past, but knew that Christ has redeemed my past, and when I am weak he is strong.
I was getting used to be the perfect girlfriend, but now through God’s grace I am becoming me. I do not want to see the perfect girl again. I don’t want her, I want me. I don’t want to hold back who I really am from my boyfriend anymore.
Our relationship struggled because of the clothes we put on. Clothes of perfection, clothes of expectations and clothes of hypocrisy. These clothes were meant to cover our fears, guilt and shame instead they almost destroyed our relationship. What clothes do you put on before the soon-to-come groom, Jesus Christ?
Nakedness without Christ leads to sin
If Princess took off our clothes before each other without Christ, at this moment of vulnerability we could have fallen into sexual sin. Rather allowed Christ to root our vulnerability in his love. We are free to be who we are because of what happened on the Cross. The Cross liberated us from the power of sin, we were once slaves to sin, but grace made us slaves to righteousness.
In our nakedness we are covered with glory. As Christians, we ought to be open and naked before God. How can we that be? Take the same approach by which we are saved, the grace approach.
God was gracious to us all and called us to his bosom even though we did not deserve it. Jesus ate with sinners, defended prostitutes and touched lepers. He received them as they are and allowed his goodness to transform them. That is the grace approach.
Jesus surrounded himself with people rejected by the law. They had to be hypocrites to be accepted by the religious communities. Yet, they allowed themselves to be naked before Christ and His glory covered them. Sinners became saints, prostitutes became messengers of the gospel and lepers became agents of grace.
Most men would not want to date a girl with an ugly past. A man breaks up with a girl because he discovers she was once a prostitute or has kids with someone else. However, this Abigail-David relationship is similar to Church-Jesus relationship. You and I have an ugly past.
God found us in sin and brought us into a loving relationship with him. However, in our desire for acceptance we embraced righteousness of works to to try and earn what we already had. Each attempt to earn approval covered the glory of God that clothed us with a filthy rag of self-righteousness. Out of love, God did not seek to break our relationship, but reminded us of the Cross so that this relationship can work.
There is no better illustration of the power of nakedness before Christ that the parable of the publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee approached God clothed in self-righteousness and self-goodness, but they publicly bowed before God and stripped all. Christ commended the publican and advised that anyone who wants to see the Father should be like the publican.
The grace approach will allow you to be open, naked and real with God while the legalistic approach will emphasize the designer clothes you put on and the price tag of the garb. Christ does not care about your clothing, he only wants to clothe you with glory.
About the Author
Marvelous Ganda is the man behind Grace Revelation, the official Facebook Page of the Naked Christian. Marve loves writing and is preparing his first manuscript. If you would like to connect with Marve, like the Grace Revelation page or friend him on Facebook.