“God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible — what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves.”
– A.W. Tozer
How many times have you seen an “unpreached message” lived out in your church?
It is a message that may not be said out loud, but we all see it lived out before our eyes. Though there are many of these types of messages, one takes the cake or the gold: Christians are to have an image of perfection.
You probably just slammed on the breaks. “That is false. Christians are not perfect.” Yes, we all know this. But, do we live the opposite? Do we promote this image in our churches?
Think about it.
Is there a problem with being beautifully broken?
The Sting of Truth
Let’s face it. We are broken. We live in a broken world. It all started in Genesis 3. Sin entered the world and, like a bull in a china shop, wrecked everything. All the beauty God created smashed in the wake of sin.
We can still see the image of God. But, it is marred and broken. Like a plate that smashes to pieces on the floor. We can tell it was a plate, but in order to get back to its original form something must be done.
The truth is we are God’s smashed artwork. We can tell we are created in God’s image, but something is off. We are not whole. Our desires are wired to something God did not intend. Think about it, is it wrong to long for intimacy with another? No. However, can’t that be taken too far? Yes. See a godly and beautiful desire is there, but it is a smashed desire as it goes after sin.
When something breaks, we feel an emotional sting. That inherited vase that lays in pieces on the floor causes our hearts pain. This is the sting of brokenness. We feel it everyday – death, disease, disability, divorce, etc. Romans 8:22-23 states how we groan for a time for our brokenness to end (even creation groans with us).
This is who we are. We are broken, and our brokenness causes us pain.
The Incarnation and The Broken
We are not the only ones who feel the pain of brokenness. God does. He sees the world falling apart and wasting away like a fresco being eroded by time.
In the garden, God went searching for Adam and Eve. He already knew what happened. He called to them. Yes, he kicked them out of the garden. But, he gave them something to stand firm on – a promise (Genesis 3:15).
God fulfilled his word. He became flesh. He took on a human body. Jesus made his dwelling, rested his head, and lived in the broken world. He didn’t live above the brokenness. He was hungry, he wept tears, he experienced the pain of death, he endured shame, he was abandoned, and he died. Jesus, the King of kings, lived in our brokenness. (John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-11)
He did this to heal our brokenness. He did this for you. He saw how much of a mess we are. He knew how twisted and repulsive our thoughts can be. He knew the imperfections we hide in the dark. Yet, what does Jesus do? He fulfills his word (Luke 4:16-21). He comes to the broken, the outcast, the condemned, and the lonely to heal their brokenness. How many times do we read the Gospels but we miss the healing of the broken?
Jesus took on a broken human body to heal the broken. But that is not the end of it. He kept his body to show the scars of what brokenness does: trying to destroy the Creator who loves us.
He lifts those scarred hands to us, and he says, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest. Go in peace, your sins are forgiven. Your faith has made you whole.” (Matthew 11:28; Matthew 9:22; Luke 5:20)
When we run into his arms and are touched by those scarred hands, we are healed. We experience the freedom of forgiveness from the Father.
Yet, we still live with the fact that the world is broken and we are broken. We still sin and mess up our lives (Romans 7:14-25). Paul, the apostle that is put on a pedestal, said he is a mess inside. He messed up and sinned. He claims it in this passage. Yet, do we believe that Paul sinned? We would say, “Yes!” But, we do not live like he did. We live like he was perfect. We live like the people we see in the Bible somehow had the silver bullet for defeating the werewolf inside.
Yet, time and time again we are reminded how broken Paul, Peter, and the others were. They did not have it all together. Therefore, it is ok for us not to have it all together. We can live as broken people just like Paul did. We do not need more self-discipline to be perfect. Otherwise, we do not need Jesus. Instead, we spread our broken shards before our savior and say, “I need you. Only your grace is enough for me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)
You may have fallen to porn this week, you may have lied, you may have exploded in anger, you may have been prideful. God knows this! He doesn’t call you to more self-discipline to cut sin out of your life. He calls you to walk by faith and not by sight, to be a broken vessel he can use. He calls you to live in the freedom of no condemnation, and come to the throne of grace to find forgiveness. (II Corinthians 5:7; II Corinthians 4:7-9; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:15; Hebrews 4:16)
You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me
Feeling broken? Barely holding on?
Have you ever been shamed by another Christian for your struggles and your brokenness? Yes, many of us have.
Many Christians today put down other Christians for “not being perfect.” We even do that to ourselves. Our churches are full of the message of perfection. Yet, from Scripture that is not what God wants. Yes, he wants us to live for him. But does he expect us to live perfect? No. We are to be perfect as the Father is perfect – perfect to love, perfect to forgive, perfect to show mercy. Perfection of a standard is what Christ pronounced a woe over the religious leaders.
Don’t we treat each others like the religious leader did? We define perfection by a standard. That is condemned by Christ. Our standard is the grace of God which transforms us from the inside out.
When other put us down for not “being perfect,” look at them and say, “You haven’t seen the last of me.” They can say that you will not make it, and you will fail. They clearly do not know you or your God and savior. God makes us stand tall. Our fulfillment of a standard does not. You are far from over. We haven’t seen the last of God’s work in your life.
Have you ever realized what stained glass is? It is broken pieces of colored glass made into a gorgeous work of art. Think of the beautiful cathedrals in Europe. They are stunning. Ever seen a beautiful mosaic. What is it? It is broken pottery arranged to create beauty.
God is not our Creator who sees sin and runs away from the darkness. He pierced the darkness as we pierced his hands. He’s the artist who arranges our broken shards with his bleeding hands into a work of art that stuns the world.
A perfect image does not show beauty. Brokenness changed into art shouts beauty. It shows a message of an artist who does not give up in a world broken. He takes it and transforms it.
Jesus does that with our lives. We are broken. We mess up. We fall. Yet, what does Jesus do? Does he demand more self-discipline? No. He asks us to give our brokenness and marvel at the touch of the artist’s hands.
You are broken. Yet, to Jesus you are beautiful. You need to look at your life from Heaven’s eyes. You don’t need to try harder. You need an artist to show what is possible.
You are beautifully broken, and to Jesus you are a work of art. He uses you broken to tell his story of grace.
Will you allow him to?