It's happened to all of us at some point in time. I still remember the exact day for me. I was sitting in a staff meeting, minding my own business, and out of nowhere... BOOM. The tacos from two hours earlier reminded me who was boss. I sat there, nodding my head at every point that was being made, but not comprehending a single thing. Thank goodness no one called on me for input because I wouldn't have had a thing to say. Sweat started pouring down my head and the chair became more and more uncomfortable. Eventually, I had to excuse myself for a brief retreat to the throne room.
I had a panic attack once. It was nuts. I was sitting in class and the professor had asked everyone to read a portion of a text. It started with the front of the room and progressed it's way toward the back -where I was sitting. (I'm a mediocre student at best. I worked hard, but struggled with actually being studious.) As the wave of readers came closer and closer to me, I started to breath heavily. My heart started to race. Time had seemed to slow down. I was looking at the assigned portion that I was to read but I couldn't make sense of it. All I could think about was, "I'm going to ruin this... I'm going to embarrass myself... I have to get out of here!" Then, right at the last second, when there was just two people to read ahead of me, I shoved the book over to my friend next to me and told him I had to run to the bathroom, he would have to read for me. To be honest, I don't remember walking to the bathroom. I just remember holding the sink and looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, "Dear Lord, I'm having a heart attack." I wasn't okay...
What is it about our humanity that makes us want to be perceived as perfect? To carry a persona that we've got it all together and don't have any problems. This is not okay. Especially in light of the Gospel. Jesus came for the not-okay. Don't pretend just to fit in.
WE'RE ALL BROKEN.
Remember those great times when the sun is shining, the windows are down, maybe a coffee is in your hand and the music is just right? Maybe you just got paid, just landed that deal, just found the love of your life or closed on a house. No matter what it is, most all of us can think back to a time rather it be recent or far away, where everything seemed great. Has it ended yet? I love this quote from A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway,
"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry."
Have you ever read anything more depressing? Yeah, me neither. The sad fact is though, it's true. The world is broken, so it breaks us. We sometimes lose the jobs we gain, we mess up relationships, we get rid of the house or the car breaks down. There seems to never be enough money for the bills and something always hurts.
If you've been reading any portion of this above and thought, 'gosh, that's true'. Then we are getting somewhere! If you thought, 'man... why is this guy so depressing, this is ruining my day!' Well, honey, bless your cotton pickin' heart, you've got a rude awakening coming your way soon. Because realizing that you are broken, is the first step in a right direction that is beautiful.
SIN IS THE REASON.
I really love medical dramas. Currently on my "My stuff" section in Hulu you'll find, The Good Doctor, The Resident, and New Amsterdam. All shows that I find fascinating. Not because I've ever wanted to be a doctor, no, but because watching how the doctors and nurses respond in crisis is amazing to me. Like, when someone comes in with a minor rash and then they put the whole hospital in quarantine because that rash is a sign of a bigger problem -a deadly disease that will kill anyone who comes in contact with it.
One of the biggest mistakes that the Christian church has made was categorizing sin itself a specific action and not a disease.
Lying isn't sin. Cussing isn't sin. Looking at porn isn't sin. It's a symptom. A symptom of a much bigger and nastier disease... SIN. The definition of sin is: Separation from God. That's the problem. There's a gap between us and God and because of that gap we do things that we shouldn't do, -Things that break us. We can try and fix the rash all day, but if we don't kill the deeper problem, the rash will come back, and eventually the disease -not the rash, will kill us.
Our world is broken because of sin. So since we all are so far from God and his plan for the way we should live our lives, we end up finding ourselves, directly or indirectly, right in the midst of brokenness. Some blame God, others blame the world, when the true answer is, we have to blame sin. Sin is the reason.
JESUS LOVES YOU
I know, I know, we hear this all the time. But do you know how much he actually loves you? Like, for real? Let me take a moment to tell you.
He Became Sin.
...We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- II Corinthians 5:21-22
There is so much that we could unpack from the verse above. But what I want to focus on, is the fact that Paul is begging us to get closer to God. the word "reconciled" in this text literally means to be brought back together again. To close the gap between two things. Then Paul turns around and tells us, it was for our sake that God made Jesus to BE sin so that WE might become righteousness. The entire point of Jesus dying was to close the gap that sin had caused.
He Died to Be the Glue
...Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
- Romans 4:24b-25
Jesus died so we don't have to. He loved us so much that he wad "delivered up" for our mistakes and was killed for OUR justification. He loved us so much that he wanted us to be justified and forgiven. So, in essence, Jesus wanted to make sure that we had a way to not feel so broken. He died so we could be whole. He suffered so we wouldn't have to. He became the glue for our brokenness.
Jesus did all of this out of love, not obligation. The world is broken, yes. But with Jesus, we can live free and whole. The world can't kill us.
I'll never forget my Grandmaw Talley. She died about five years ago. I don't mean this next part disrespectfully, but she was a borderline hoarder. She had a lot of stuff, way to much stuff in fact, but it all meant a lot to her and that's all that mattered. I still remember the Christmas my senior year in high school. She gave me a tiny little ceramic bear with a cap and gown on. She said, "you graduate this year right? Well that is your Christmas and graduation gift..." I didn't mind. The bear had it's right arm raised with a diploma in it's hand. After further inspection I noticed however that the arm had been broken off and she had glued it back on. At the time, for some reason, that bothered me a lot. I mean why couldn't she just get me one that wasn't broken? Why did she have to fix it? I was embarrassed.
The truth now is, now I'd almost give anything to have that little bear. Don't worry, I'm not a hoarder. But the whole thing represents something way bigger. The fact that we all forget that broken things can become beautiful. That yes, even your past, that you're so embarrassed about, doesn't have to define your future and that many times it's your past that actually makes your future that much sweeter.
Jesus, time and time again, chose to use broken people to fix the world. Why is that?
Have you ever broken anything and glued it back together? What becomes the weakest point - the fracture that you fixed. Well, when we let Jesus fix our fractured lives it does the opposite. The fracture becomes the strongest point -because the creator of heaven and earth is holding it all together. It also makes us completely dependent on Him and not our own selves. So this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we have to be okay with not being okay. Because if we actually want to be used by God and ultimately be stronger, we have to be broken.
Don't keep setting in the chair, being uncomfortable, sweating and nodding as if you know what's going on. It's okay, step out, take a visit to the throne room and I promise, you'll be the better for it.
Until next time,