Brokenness, worship, creativity, Christianity

Identifying with Brokenness

Brokenness is a place we try to avoid. To our human understanding, brokenness is that dark pit that bubbles with heartache and pain. Brokenness is hell on earth.

So we avoid it. We don’t talk about it. We pretend we don’t have any of it. We hide our brokenness from others who are hiding their brokenness. And we create a cycle. Its not long before newcomers into the fold learn to hide their brokenness too. It might be our great universal art in the church–talking around, over, under, but never directly at our brokenness.

The biggest problem with all this, is that the door to our salvation sits wide open across the threshold of brokenness. We come to Jesus with our brokenness, there is no other way to come to Him. We recognize that we have made a mess of our lives by trying to run it ourselves. We see that His way is the better way, that His Kingdom is freedom from the broken places.

Some church traditions will never sing or say things that would confess “I am a sinner” because we are “new creations” and now have become “saints”. But to ignore who we were means to forget how we entered the Kingdom in the first place. Paul writes to the an ancient church:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

And such were some of you

He is reminding us of the brokenness that we presented to Jesus as passage into His Kingdom. Of his own life he states:

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Paul declares boldly that he is a sinner, and a big one at that. As we move forward in our faith, the “big sins” start to fall away. These “big sins” are outward, visible to man, and they comprise the last half of the ten commandments. As we make our way through the list in reverse (it’s always in reverse) we come to inward sin. Those that people may not see, or may not affect other people at all. Then we are faced with the biggie.

You shall have no other gods before me.

The further we go on, the more we realize just how many gods we have before him. When I look at my own life, I see that even though I desperately want to make Him first, I find many other things that take His place. I stopped stealing long ago, but this one, this one is hard.

You shall have no other gods before me.

And then I realize, like Paul, I am the chief of sinners. I can’t get this one thing right. The closer I draw to God, the more I realize how I abuse this command. I’m broken. I can’t fix it. I’m selfish and self serving. I love things more often than people. I find value in what others think of me. If I try hard enough, I can make things happen on my own. I do not do what I want to do, and I do what I know not to do. I’m the chief of sinners. Broken.

Then Jesus says to me – I have been broken too.

If I could pause here for reflection I would.

I have been broken too.

He was broken so that I could be fixed. He became my brokenness so that I could become his wholeness. He wasn’t broken for the well, but for the sick. When I forget that I’m broken, when I act like I’m well, then I move outside of the category of those to whom He came. We enter His Kingdom when we give Him our brokenness. We get rid of the things we don’t want and He gives us freedom and life, which we DO want.

Being human, we break again. And again. And this gives us more opportunity to make the exchange. We don’t live in our brokenness, we exchange it. And then we remember what it was like to be broken, giving thanks for the healing and wholeness.

And such were some of you

I know that I’m treading on thin ice here, but the Kingdom is both/and. We are broken, Jesus fixes us, we are no longer broken. But we continue to break and need mending. And when we forget the mending, we become like the Israelites who seemed to forget small details like… seas parting, and plagues.

This plays so importantly into our creativity. But that will have to wait for the next post.

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