Peeling back the layers

Ever peel an artichoke?


I actually haven't before, but I can tell from pictures about what it's like. I had the oddest picture come to mind during church yesterday, though. The only thing I can liken it to is an artichoke. I had a picture of myself as a translucent (kind of glowing) egg-shaped thing. Perhaps that was my soul? And there were all these layers of dark petals around it, like a rose or an artichoke, but the layers were black. I could see a hand peeling back the layers, one by one, until you could actually see the inside. Or if we're still hanging with the artichoke theme, the HEART.
The layers were years of religious dogma, not grounded in the word. Years of being judgmental and pointing fingers. Years of putting up a facade of capability and performance. Years of pride. Thankfully, there is a hand peeling back these ugly layers that choke out the love of God. It's truth. The more I hear the truth, act on the truth and embrace the truth, the more God can peel back the ugly. Oddly, the layers protect me in a way, as I could see in my mind's eye how vulnerable the white, glowing center looked. Love makes us vulnerable. Loving radically almost surely sets us up for hurt. We can't be hurt by that which we hold at arm's length.
It's easy as Christians to talk about "those people." Whoever those people are to you. Abortionists, liberals, alcoholics, druggies, homeless, Muslims, homosexuals...and the list goes on and on. But the TRUTH of it is, Jesus died for "them" too. The same grace that I have received is a free gift to them too. And it's only our love + His grace that will change anyone's heart. Because what we're really after is not just behavior modifications. What would be REVOLUTIONARY would be people treating each other with respect and compassion. Putting others' needs before your own...walking in humility...being patient and longsuffering.
I die inside when I see "Christians" screaming and clamoring. As my pastor says, you are just another angry voice in a sea of angry voices. Jesus told us that "THEY will know we are Christians by our love."
What are your layers? What have you cocooned yourself in that keeps your heart safe and unexposed...and choked off from truth?