Sunday, July 8, 2007

Speaking of Brokenness

In my browsing today and in light of what I wrote the other day, (Good Enough To Lead?), please check out this article from The Internet Monk entitled, "When I Am Weak."

It will bring reality to your Sunday.

In case you don't have time to read the whole article, let me paste here a few paragraphs.

Indeed. Why are we, after all that confident talk of "new life," "new creation," "the power of God," "healing," "wisdom," "miracles," "the power of prayer," ...why are we so weak? Why do so many "good Christian people," turn out to be just like everyone else? Divorced. Depressed. Broken. Messed up. Full of pain and secrets. Addicted, needy and phony. I thought we were different.

It's remarkable, considering the tone of so many Christian sermons and messages, that any church has honest people show up at all. I can't imagine that any religion in the history of humanity has made as many clearly false claims and promises as evangelical Christians in their quest to say that Jesus makes us better people right now. With their constant promises of joy, power, contentment, healing, prosperity, purpose, better relationships, successful parenting and freedom from every kind of oppression and affliction, I wonder why more Christians aren't either being sued by the rest of humanity for lying or hauled off to a psych ward to be examined for serious delusions.


And later in the article,

We need our brokenness. We need to admit it and know it is the real, true stuff of our earthly journey in a fallen world. It's the cross on which Jesus meets us. It is the incarnation he takes up for us. It's what his hands touch when he holds us. Do you remember this story? It's often been told, but oh how true it is as a GOSPEL story (not a law story.) It is a Gospel story about Jesus and how I experience him in this "twisted" life.

In his book Mortal Lessons (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed surgery on a young woman's face: I stand by the bed where the young woman lies . . . her face, postoperative . . . her mouth twisted in palsy . . . clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight . . . isolated from me . . .private.

Who are they? I ask myself . . . he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. "Will my mouth always be like this?" she asks. "Yes," I say, "it will. It is because the nerve was cut." She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. "I like it," he says, "it's kind of cute." All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers. . . to show her that their kiss still works.

This is who Jesus has always been. And if you think you are getting to be a great kisser or are looking desirable, I feel sorry for you. He wraps himself around our hurts, our brokenness and our ugly, ever-present sin. Those of you who want to draw big, dark lines between my humanity and my sin, go right ahead, but I'm not joining you. It's all ME. And I need Jesus so much to love me like I really am: brokenness, memories, wounds, sins, addictions, lies, death, fear....all of it. Take all it, Lord Jesus. If I don't present this broken, messed up person to Jesus, my faith is dishonest, and my understanding of it will become a way of continuing the ruse and pretense of being "good."

Good reading for a Sunday Morning - Especially for Church Lady.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jesus doesn't just kiss palsy -- he heals it. He said so Himself.

It's true that it doesn't happen that way all the time, and I don't claim to know why, in light of Jesus' promises. Still, while I may not be "good" in the ultimate sense that Jesus meant when he questioned the rich young ruler, I am better.

In picking up what truth we can out of Internet Monk's article, let us be careful not to dismiss the power of the resurrection, which is at work in us now.

malegra said...

I've been munching on this for a couple of days now, trying to come up with something to say. I couldn't. I'm glad you shared this, though.

Steve Sensenig said...

Anonymous said it well: "[L]et us be careful not to dismiss the power of the resurrection, which is at work in us now."

I think there is definitely a balance between celebrating our brokenness (finding our identity in that) and celebrating the new life that we have in Jesus (finding our identity in him).

Messy Christian said...

Wow, that was a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)