Look! The Good Side and the Ugly Side

An embroiderer weaves the thread looking at the good side everyone will see, but flipping the beautiful project over reveals an ugly side. On the good side, symmetry and order create an attractive design. On the opposite side, the ugly side, threads criss-cross in weird angles and knots hang limp.

Illustrations of the good-side-ugly-side of things are revealed in innumerable ways around us.

Instinctively, we all try to hide our ugly side, even pretending only the good side exists. Jesus consistently flipped over pretty facades to reveal hidden uglies underneath. He wasn’t, and isn’t, sadistic, taking pleasure in tormenting or humiliated people.

Jesus purposefully flipped and turned, looking for those responsive to His teaching and drawing the humble to maturity and order.

The true masters of needlework produce artful pieces, beautiful on both sides. Although I tried, I never reached that level of excellence.

Good or Ugly?

At times, we may be quick to form opinions and cast judgments. The good side might not be as good as we first think. The ugly side might not be as bad as we think, either.

John the Baptist called people to repent in preparation for Jesus’ coming. Tax collectors and sinners, the ugly side of society, responded to his ministry. The religious elite held fast to a different view.

“(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)”
Luke 7:29-30

Those who fought to maintain a strict apprearance of looking good ended up nullifying everything — even God’s divine purpose for their lives. Strutting in distinguishing robes and high hats to fit their high heads, they failed to realize the cost of their unyielding pride.

When the good-side people rejected John’s call to acknowledge their bad side and turn their lives around, they forfeited all God had waiting for them.

This Generation

Jesus spoke directly to His generation. They dismissed the invitation to turn — to humbly admit their ugly side, so He could bring out the good side. No one could twist His meaning for some future time, although similarities would exist for every generation.

“Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?”
Luke 7:31

Jesus broadens His focus beyond a limited group of religious leaders to “this generation.” All of us!

What He reveals isn’t pretty! The more we attempt to hide our ugly side, the uglier it becomes. The longer we wait, the greater the mess we create in and around ourselves.

The Ugly Side

How ugly is the ugly side? Down right ugly! Immature, idle, stage-seeking, groupy ugly! Ouch! Truth stings!

“They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.'”
Luke 7:32

What would Jesus say about me? Forget about brushing this indictment off to others. If Jesus flipped me over publicly, what would He find and others see?

Where are the areas in my life where I childishly resist taking responsibility — where my attitude or behavior exhibits immaturity? Am I idly “sitting” around when there is Kingdom work to do? Do I seek a platform to be heard or a spotlight of attention? Do I expect others to adjust to my command to “dance” or “mourn?”

As I read this passage this morning, I knew God wanted my full attention. Maybe, He desires to speak to you as well, but I’m just sharing about a little flipping Jesus is doing right here with me.

The Good Side

Even as I felt the pain of my ugly side being exposed, I heard God’s sweet voice of grace inviting me to the good side — the beautiful side displaying His creative hand at work. Again, I felt His nudge to harmonize my life with His good, I mean really good, purpose and plan.

May you hear and feel Him too. May you sense Him drawing you from childish ways into maturity, taking you by the hand, lifting you to our feet, and mobilizing you to a place of fulfillment. Why? Because He doesn’t want anyone, including you and me, to miss out!

Jesus gently draws us away from the crowds and distractions of business and busyness — away from conforming to like-minded, going-no-where thinkers. Instead of setting our own pace and demanding others march to the beat of our personal drum, He welcomes us to the good side.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ . . . “
2 Corinthians 5:16-18

Point of View

Honestly, it is okay if Jesus or others point to my ugly side. By His grace, He continues to take that ugly old side, with warped and knotted ends, and recreates it into a beautiful design no one could imagine. Through Him, even my ugly becomes new!

Oh, may we not resist His perfecting touch! May we each look into the mirror of His doing and see the miracle of the “good side” — His new creation worked in us.

May the tune of our song align with His truth:

“The old is gone!
The new is here!
All this is from God!”

Oh, sing it saints! Sing it again and again until it settles in your soul. Sing it mature, active, humble followers of Jesus. Don’t try to hide your ugly side from God or others, but let the world see your truly good side.

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The Word of God – Cutting a Straight Line!

The Word of God

Where I live in Saskatchewan, highways run straighter than an arrow shot on a calm day. They are a good illustration of how the Word of God is able to “cut” a straight line, preparing us for better things.

In contrast, Guatemalan roads are scariest I have ever been on. They twist their way upward in snakelike fashion. When our van going down met a truck coming up we barely stayed our course, scraping adjacent mirrors with the oncoming vehicle. The rocky outer edge of the road gave way under the weight of the tires. I was thankful for the darkness of night that hid the true depth of the precipice beside us.

Mountains of Guatemala

Cut a Straight Line

Straight is what Paul was describing to Timothy

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed
and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15

This term “correctly handles” literally means “to cut straight, to cut a straight road, or to keep a straight course.” We need the Word of God to accomplish that!

It reminds me of another verse referring to the bible,

“For the word of God is alive and powerful.
It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword,
cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.
It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
Hebrews 4:12

Sword of the Spirit - The Word of God

The word of God is alive and powerful! It is sharp, cutting deep and cutting straight.

Separating “soul and spirit, joint and marrow, as well as thoughts and desires” is precision work. God has been using His word as a cutting tool in my life continually.

My life will appear to be flowing smoothly, until I hear his voice, “MaryAnn come closer.”

He is calling me to separation. God’s Word does the cutting and revealing; it is up to me to do the separating.

Separation

At the sound of his voice, He creates the dividing line, the straight path, for each of us to walk unashamed, acceptable and pleasing to Him.

It may be separation from

  • entertainment choices
  • from time wasters
  • an occupation or specific workplace
  • a relationship
  • a dream or preconceived notion of what I think my life should look like

 

Bible - Separation and Preparation

God’s word does the cutting! I have opportunity to choose the way of separation! Separation unto Him! He never forces such separation upon us. It is a beautiful invitation for something better!

Preparation

In reality, separation is the path, the straight road, of preparation.

Abraham was called to leave his home and family and go to some unknown place, before God allowed him to be the father of many nations. Moses spent 40 years in the desert to prepare him for his leadership over the people of Israel. Elijah spent time in isolation by a brook being fed by ravens to prepare him for Mount Carmel and the prophets of Baal. David lived in caves for 15 years on the run from King Saul before sitting on the throne.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit,
left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”
Luke 4:1

Separation is never easy! It comes at a price!

The bible makes it clear! Preparation for the work of God requires some degree of separation. The greater the ministry call, the greater the invitation of separation to prepare for what is ahead.

Many people want the honour of ministry! Few welcome the process of preparation!

[bctt tweet=”Many people want the honour of ministry! Few welcome the process of preparation!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]

“Those who cleanse themselves…
will be instruments for special purposes,
made holy, useful to the Master and
prepared to do any good work.”
2 Timothy 2:21

Special Purposes

God is calling every one of us to His special purposes! He is purposefully preparing us for His good work! Separation always has a wonderful purpose and design! When the preparation is finally over and we step into His special purposes, we will all nod our heads in agreement, “It was worth it!”

Cut for special purposes!

God is faithful to cut the straight path. We follow, trusting the course He has marked for us.

We rest in the process knowing the beginning is His! The outcome is also His!

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More Good Reading!

Answer the Call – Responding Immediately, “Yes, Lord!”