Vulnerable: A Letter to West Franklin

Vulnerable: A Letter to West Franklin July 31, 2021

West Franklin Family,

The Bible’s pretty clear: God’s children are to love one another. Not just say it. Actually do it. Love, as you well know, is a verb. Verbs mean action.

I felt like I was able to actually, really, love one of you this week. It happened because this person was extremely vulnerable. This person let me see inside. This person put it all out on the table. Some of it was pretty. Some of it was due to horrible circumstances outside of their control. A lot of it was messy by their own doing. This person shared they didn’t like being vulnerable. But you couldn’t tell it by what was coming out of their mouth.

That’s when it happened. I was able to begin loving them. Like, really love them.

As I walked away from this conversation, I realized something: it’s impossible to love someone unless you know them. It’s impossible to speak truth to someone if you don’t know they are believing (or living) a lie. It’s impossible to offer hope and encouragement, or a challenge and rebuke if you don’t know where or what they need.

In short, it’s impossible to obey the command to love one another unless we are vulnerable with one another. To say it another way – if we aren’t vulnerable with one another, we won’t really know one another. If we don’t know one another, really, we will never love one another. Biblical, Jesus-like love isn’t just nice feelings of getting along with one another. Spirit-saturated love is when you stay when it hurts. Remain when it is easier to walk away. Stick it out when it’s messy and ugly and hard. We can’t demonstrate that if we never let each other see the messy, the ugly, the hard. You and I cannot be truly loved if we are never truly known. We cannot know our own capacity to love until we are given the opportunity.

Here’s what I know to be true:

  • Being vulnerable is risky. You can get burned.
  • Everyone longs for there to be a safe place to be completely open, raw, and honest.
  • No one likes to go first.
  • Every church I have ever been a part of is horrible at being vulnerable.
  • From what I hear, gatherers at a local bar are better at vulnerability than church.
  • Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – has stuff. And I mean stuff.
  • Most church people are better at gossiping about other’s stuff than being vulnerable with their own.
  • You cannot be truly loved unless you are genuinely vulnerable.

West Franklin, why can’t we be a community of people who really love one another? Who’s to say we can’t lead the way and demonstrate the real fruit of the Gospel by loving each other’s mess? What if what attracted someone to our church wasn’t the preaching or the music or the building, but the way we loved one another? What if we countered every thing the world says to do, and instead of rejecting one another, we loved one another like Jesus loves us? What if we actually began obeying Jesus because someone we shared our struggles with loved us by confrontation with the truth? What if we felt so safe and secure with one another we looked forward to sharing so we might hear how we can spur one another on toward following Jesus?

Let’s try it. Why not? Share with your group. Share with another believer. Be real. Be raw. Be honest. Be open. See if you can be really loved for who you really are. Learn your own capacity to love. Let’s not let the local bars have all the fun. I’m guessing we’ll be surprised. And free. And full of joy. And a renewed vibrancy with Jesus.

The best part of my conversation this week? This person obeyed Jesus in a brand new way. If I understand it correctly, that’s what love does.

You cannot be truly loved unless you are genuinely vulnerable. Who’ll be first?

Let us love one another,

Pastor Matt


Tomorrow we start a new 8-week series called “God Is.” Dave Kruse will help us better understand the Goodness of God.

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