“I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too. . . .Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do… Maybe it’s the same with people. If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken ” (from the movie Hugo).
Very few people know what they were born to do. Fewer still are actually living out of that purpose. So many have settled for jobs and routines and hobbies and weekends and wonder why they lead lives of quiet desperation (as Thoreau famously put it).
I think God made each one of us with a purpose. No one is a mistake. No one is an afterthought. You and I are uniquely and expressly designed by our Creator to do what no one else can do.
I am finding out my own purpose. I know part of it involves writing and communicating the truth of knowing who you are in Christ. I know that I want people to know that God doesn’t love them out of an obligation or because He’s God; He loves them because He wants to. He chose you and called you by your own name and set His affections on you. He not only loves you, He likes you.
Not only did God create each of us with a purpose, He made us to help each other find and fulfill our purposes. I truly believe that we can only be our true, God-made selves in the middle of a community of believers who both minister to each other and reach out to a lost and broken world.
May we know what it’s like to see people find their purpose, to see broken people find wholeness, to see lost people found, and to see dead people coming alive again. What could be better?
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
I have been thinking about that verse quite a bit today. Not so much in the sense of the poor and downtrodden, which is obviously the main ones Jesus is talking about here. But what if at one point I am the least of these. Or what if you are the least of these. How would you treat me? How would I treat you?
I’d like to think I would treat you with respect and dignity and be Jesus to you. The truth is that whatever I do or don’t do to you at that moment of your utmost weakness, I do to Jesus. It’s interesting that Jesus always identifies with the broken and downcast and outcasts rather than identifying with those who are socially acceptable (like I tend to do nearly all the time).
Am I ignoring Jesus in someone else because He doesn’t look or act like me? Am I brushing past Him when I walk past someone who is less polished and more socially awkward? If I am harsh and critical with myself when I am at my lowest ebb, what am I saying to Jesus? Whatever you and I did or didn’t do to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you and I did or didn’t do to Jesus.
So treat everyone you meet like you would treat Jesus, all of us go through times in our lives when we can identify with the least of these through our brokenness and weakness. In the end, what will matter most will be what we did or didn’t do for the least of these, whether they were living in a cardboard box in the slums or in a mansion.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
When was the last time I boasted in my weaknesses? I seldom even acknowledge that I have any weaknesses. Usually I try to sell myself on what I consider my best qualities. But weaknesses? I try to hide them or pretend they don’t exist.
I truly believe that there is a power that comes only through weakness and brokenness that will never come through self-reliance or self-sufficiency. Only when I am weak, when I admit to the world that I am weak, then I am strong. And Christ in me is so much stronger than I could ever be.
What if I boasted in the fact that my social skills are slightly better than nonexistent? That I back down when I should stand up? What if I shout to the rooftops that I am weak, helpless, afraid and utterly broken? Maybe then I am at my strongest and the power that raised Christ from the dead is unleashed in me.
This is so very against the culture that it is unthinkable. But aren’t I supposed to be counter-culture? What if we are too busy fitting in and so much like the world that we have completely lost the power that can save the world? Maybe that’s why Christians are so despised. Not because we are different, but because we are not different enough.
A broken world can’t relate to perfect, holier-than-thou Christians who have it all together. They respond when they see what our brokenness looks like and when God’s grace is able to transform our weakness into His strength. Grace is what the world needs, not our perfection.
We are all broken. Some are just better at hiding it than others, but deep down inside we know we don’t work right. I believe when God reveals our brokenness within the context of community, we have two choices. I can see your brokenness and choose to walk away and shut you out or I can choose to walk with you and share your burdens, “and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Ephesians 6:2). I’m not saying it’s wrong to walk away; some are not ready to handle brokenness in others. But to stay and walk with a brother or sister through brokenness is the better way.
I also think about the image of Jesus breaking bread and blessing it. If we want God to bless us, or better yet to bless others through us, we must first be broken. Only in the context of community where we love each other and share joys and sorrows and bear each other’s burdens can this happen. We shouldn’t just pray for blessings on each other. We should be able to pray for brokenness for each other. We should be authentic and transparent enough to be broken and honest with each other.
I am reminded of Henri Nouwen’s term “wounded healer.” If we aren’t broken, we can never reach beyond the surface in our relationships and serving and ministry, but if we are broken, we can empathize with the weaknesses of others. The more we own our brokenness, the more loving and Christlike we will be toward the brokenness in others.
I want to buck the trend that says that weakness is something you don’t talk about. I want to be like Paul who boasted in his weakness, because that’s where Christ’s strength is perfected. Let people see that you are not a perfect saint, but a weak and broken and transparent vessel through which God’s love can pour unhindered to the world around you.
As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.
God, I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but You do.
I don’t understand why I should be so blessed when all I seem to do is complain about what I lack, but You know why and love me anyway.
I don’t understand why people act the way they do, but You do and You call me to forgive them as You have forgiven them.
I don’t understand many times why I act the way I do, but You do and You forgive me.
I can’t fix my brokenness, but You can because You took it upon Yourself at Calvary.
I can’t mend broken relationships, but You can because You make all things new.
I can never be a man of God on my own, but in You I am one because You are in me.
I can never die to my way of doing things and say, Thy will be done,” but You did. And Your power and resurrected life are in me.
I can’t change the world or eradicate injustice, poverty, wrong and evil, but one day You will.
All the things I long to be in my best moments and all I ever dreamed I could be, You are.
To all that I have needed or will ever need, You say, “I AM!”
Here’s my vision (not in the apostle John way, but just something I am hungering for lately). I see a church without walls. I see a church not bound by bricks and mortar, but made up of living stones, of people whose broken lives are being made whole. Something Henri Nouwen calls “wounded healers.” I see a church unified in purpose and dedicated to sharing everything, from joys to griefs, blessings and sorrows. I see a church where worship breaks out in front of Chick-fil-A or Starbucks. Where worship is not an event, but a lifestyle.
I see a church with real people who are authentic in their brokenness and who can be genuinely themselves. I see a church earmarked by grace and acceptance, not condemnation and judgment. I see a church with no walls between believers, because a wall between two believers is a wall that keeps a non-believer from seeing Jesus in us. I see a church where I will lay down my offering or stop my worship and go to my brother or sister in Christ and be reconciled before I write one tithe check or sing one note of praise.
I see a church who meets wherever there is a need and whenever someone is hurting. I see a church who would rather draw in the lonely, the outcast and the sinner than the perfect saints, career churchgoers and religious-types. I see a church who follows Christ, not American Christianity. The church I see is becoming my passion. I want to see Acts 2 in action. I am sick and tired of the same old routine and traditions and forms without power. I want the kind of anointing that caused thousands to come to Christ daily. I want the building to shake from the power of God inside. I want signs and wonders. I want people on the outside to see how much we love each other and be in awe of the power that God’s love in us unleashes.
The Bible says that we are living epistles, not written with ink but by the Spirit of the living God (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). We are God’s letters to the whosoevers.
As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Jesus, I believe You. I believe Your blood has covered all my sin and vanquished every lie and broken every chain. You have overcome, and the victory is won! I am more than a conqueror through You who loved me.
By the power of Your blood, I renounce the lie that I am alone and that no one wants to know me or hear what I have to say.
By the power of Your blood, I renounce the lie that I don’t measure up or have what it takes and that I am just in the way.
By the power of Your blood, I renounce the lie that I have nothing to offer and that I might as well not even exist.
Jesus, You don’t come to me to tell me the truth. YOU ARE THE TRUTH! You don’t come to show me the way. YOU ARE THE WAY! You don’t come to give me a better life. YOU ARE MY LIFE!
You make my brokenness beautiful and my woundedness a balm of healing to others. You don’t make me good, or better, or my best. You make me ALIVE!
I will never ever find the words to tell You how good You’ve been to me. May my life be a living prayer of thanksgiving back to you. Amen.