There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who are broken and know it, and those who are broken and don’t yet know it. In the garden of Eden God made man with three areas of duty and purpose. First, God made us to love, worship, and obey Him. Second, we were to love and serve our fellow man. Finally, we were given a mandate to tend the garden (bring order out of chaos) and to create beauty that would glorify God.
The first humans failed in their primary purpose by rebelling and breaking that relationship with God. Like a stone that impacts a single point on a window but shatters the whole thing, so our break with a holy God brought brokenness to every sphere of life. Where we were to love and serve other people we now hate and abuse them. Where we were to tend and beautify this planet, we neglect and destroy it. Instead of works of art that reflect the beauty of God we create blasphemous pornography and lurid “slasher” films.
True, the brokenness of humanity is not total. God has still given us common grace and this world is not as bad as it could be. Man still creates stunning works of beauty, and we do find shining glimpses of sacrificial love among mankind.
Degrees of Separation
There are degrees of brokenness. There are no perfect parents, we all blow it in one way or another, but some human brokenness is so severe that it turns the home into a type of hell with abuse and molestation.
We like to pretend we are not broken by comparing ourselves with those who are broken worse then we are. We can always find someone more twisted and ugly than we are, even if it means watching Jerry Springer reruns, or the latest campaign speech.
Jesus is for the Broken
The grace and salvation of Jesus Christ is available to even those who are severely broken. Those who were most attracted to Jesus were those who were broken by life; prostitutes, beggars, the ostracized, the diseased, and the disabled. Those who felt they were good enough on their own hated Jesus, because his holiness made them feel dirty in comparison.
God loves those who are broken. Jesus came for the sick, not those who have no need for a doctor. Jesus is good news for the broken.
It is in brokenness that we realize our need for God. When we are broken by wrong choices, or simply life’s difficulties, our depravity is revealed and we see our need for a Savior. God specializes in bringing beauty from tragedy and sorrows.
But I believe it is possible to glorify brokenness too much.
Brokenness is the not the end
The gospel is for the broken, but not to keep us broken. Yes, as the fire of Holy Spirit burns in our life, he wants to break us of our pride, our self-sufficiency, and our critical spirit and our need for human admiration. In these areas God always wants us to stay broken. Pride is repulsive to God, but he loves a broken and contrite heart. However, He also wants to bring restoration to what our sin has broken. It is true that we must die: Christianity starts with the cross, but it doesn’t end with it.
In the discouragement of repeated failure it is easy to become complacent and be satisfied with being broken. If you are continually falling prey to addictions, or messing up relationship after relationship, the thought that brokenness is the mark of the truly spiritual is very soothing to the conscience and the ego. Why seek God to restore your marriage or bring freedom from your bondage to sins? These flaws are keeping you humble, so isn’t that a good thing?
The message of the Gospel is that there is no state of brokenness too severe where God does not still love and accept you. But the power of the Gospel is to transform you and bring restoration. Humility is essential, but it is not enough. God also wants to make us obedient and holy.
Brokenness that does not lead us to holiness is worthless, and not what God is after.
Jesus the Healer
Jesus came to bring shalom, or wholeness, to what was broken. He started his ministry with these words, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus was broken for us so that we could be made whole. “By his stripes, we are healed.” We are not saved by our good works, and if there is anything praise worthy in us the credit and the glory belongs to God.
But none of this changes the fact that God’s salvation should result in sanctification and freedom from sin. Salvation truly received will transform you and you will bear the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. As these traits begin to describe you, this will start to bring restoration to your human relationships. You will become a better husband and a more attentive father. A family that is filled with the Holy Spirit will become more kind and gentle with each other.
This does not mean that you will never experience a broken relationship or a rebellious child; people are always free to reject the gift of love.
What I am trying to say is that if you rightly understand the gospel, you will never be content to remain broken. Jesus has the power to free you from the slavery to the things that keep destroying your relationship with God and man. Jesus wants you to surrender every area of life to His loving Lordship. As the different spheres of your life come under His authority, His spirit will begin to heal what pride and rebellion destroyed. You will become a better steward of the time, money, and talents that he has given you. People around you will notice a genuine spirit of love and humility.
I am not talking about success necessarily. We measure success much differently than God does. We define success in terms of earthly numbers and dollars. We want steps to follow so that we look good. We want to find successful people so we can copy what they did. But God is after a restored relationship with Him, where he gets the credit and the glory.
God is able to bring healing and freedom, not so people will admire you as someone who has it all together or “did things right.” But so people will be in awe of God’s healing power and will look to Him to restore what is broken in their own life.
When we fail to realize the truly transformed life that should mark a genuinely saved person, we can grow proud of our brokenness. “I must be doing something right because Satan is sure attacking me.” When we see the standard of holiness that God wants to bring us to, we will fall down on our knees in humility as we grasp that we can never achieve this on our own.
The wholeness God is seeking begins with restoring our relationship with Himself. To achieve this God must often keep breaking us in other areas and lead us through trials and defeats, as we are purified of the things that sever our communion with God: Idolatry, pride, fear of man. God wants to heal you, but his healing often begins with more breaking.
Whatever brokenness you are experiencing right now, whether it is a character weakness such as an addiction or a temper, or a broken relationship, bring it God and in a spirit of helpless, but trusting dependence, ask him to transform you into the image of Christ. Surrender your life to God and let him cultivate you so that your life bears the fruit of the Spirit. And your wholeness will glorify the God who deserves the credit.