THERE WAS A time when I didn’t really look forward to heaven. Not because sitting around on a cloud for eternity sounded kind of boring (though it did, to be honest) but because the prospect of my reception left me squirming.
I didn’t worry that I’d get turned away at the pearly gates. I’m confident that the deal is 100 hundred percent sealed because of Jesus, and is not based on my efforts. Grace, grace, grace. But, somewhere along the way, I absorbed the idea that His complete acceptance also involved my total exposure.
Bible references to having to account for every careless word (Matt. 12:36), nothing currently hidden that will not be revealed (Luke 8:17), and appearing before the judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10) left me suspecting a big Andy’s Worst Moments reveal-all in front of, oh, entire humanity.
However, I have come to believe that while the grace I find in Jesus truly does cover all my shame, He doesn’t then require me to reveal it all just to prove the point. At times and with certain people, it’s appropriate to be no-holds-barred bare. But there’s a difference between transparency and exhibitionism.
Consider the way Jesus dealt with Peter, the swaggering disciple who disowned his Savior the night He was arrested. The one Jesus said would be the rock on which He founded His church crumbled to dust when others challenged his devotion.
Much has been written and preached about how Jesus restored Peter during a breakfast with the disciples after His resurrection. John 21 tells how Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times—once for each of Peter’s denials in the high priest’s courtyard (Luke 22).
But I’m fascinated that, prior to this personal and public restoration, Jesus had already had time alone with Peter. Luke 24 tells how on the day of His resurrection, among those Jesus appeared to before coming to the gathered disciples was Peter himself.That this intimate encounter was separate from the others recorded in the different Gospel accounts is made clear in 1 Corinthians 15, when Paul writes that Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and… appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve…”
Wouldn’t you like to have eavesdropped on that One-on-one meeting? Maybe there was nothing said, just a look. Maybe there were words of sorrow and shame, forgiveness and faith. Surely there were tears—of pain, of regret, and then of relief and joy.
In due course there would be that subtle public address of all that had happened, but the full “inside story” remained private, between just Jesus and Peter.
In the same way, while one day I’ll stand in front of Jesus as someone forgiven much, unconcerned about others knowing how desperately I’ve needed His grace to be there, I suspect there’ll be some private time when we get to talk specifics. A whispered welcome rather than a roaring reception.As for what follows, I’m not sure on all the details yet, but I do know it’s much more exciting than harps and halos, with adventures awaiting in a renewed creation.
Photo credit: Ruth and Dave via Foter.com/CC BY