Friday, June 10, 2016

Isn't there room for brokenness?

I hear this statement all the time "But we are the broken ministering to the broken." Having attended an Evangelical Christian university for a year and been involved in two ministry groups on said campus, prior to attending the community college, I heard this constantly. Honestly I even began to believe but recently, with my study into the early church- and indeed seeing more of the breadth of Sacred Scripture- this question has regained significance to me.
       Some might say "Why? Don't we know we are broken people? After all didn't the fall mar us?"
But, this bring up a far more profound question on sin and its origin that I will not detail in this post, never the less, there is another aspect to this. "Is there room for the broken". Of course there is the church is indeed the place where we find grace, in the gospel, sacraments, and community, and we are all sinners in need of his unending grace yet an issue that is at the fore front of my monster fed 1 am typing spree is that we are obssesed with our brokenness, we own it like it is a part of us.

  But here is the thing we are called to transformation by God's work in us (Romans 8), and Jesus said "who the son sets free is free indeed" so how can we be so obsessed with our brokenness and why do we identify with it, especially when this brokenness is sin? But even when it is depression or some other like struggle is Jesus not our sabbath rest? He says that he is the Lord of the Sabbath

    "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 Esv) 

 In the next chapter Jesus declares himself Lord of the Sabbath he is our rest he is the one to whom we bring our brokenness and we share it in the community of the church and in him, though it may be slow there is a renewing work as we trust that "he who has begun a great work in you will carry it to completion" (See Philippians 1:6 for full verse). This is my concern that in much of some segments of evangelicalism we have found so much comfort in "grace" and our brokenness that we do not hear our saviors call to newness of life. And others fall into the error of having no grace for those in need. Neither of these, however, are to be done alone it is true that churches are filled with broken people, and as long as we are all still human, I expect this to remain but we go through this life of brokenness together as a community. 

So, while I don't think the phrase is entirely wrong we must be careful when saying it because though we come broken we are constantly renewed "the old has died the new has come.." and in baptism we died and are brought back to life (Romans 6). This brokenness that is part of being human should NOT define us lest we should be guilty of what Dietritch Bonhoeffer warned about 

        “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” (Cost of Discipleship).

      This is to say when we say "I am broken" as an excuse and or as a comfort the question becomes "Am I using this to my own harm in 'justifying the sin but not the sinner'". Realistically God's radical grace is made manifest in that he works through us broken people but that, though we come to him broken, he is constantly transforming us, as we adhere to his will, and pruning us (John 15 and 2 Timothy 2:20-21). We come to him broken striving to, by his grace, live for him as he -God- does the heavy lifting of transforming us though broken we may come to him we have Christ in us as the hope of glory (see Colossians 1:26-27). In Short while I would say "yes there is room for brokenness" I would say but we should not take comfort in that as a "destination" but as a journey into God's healing hand of transformation though we will likely never be perfect until the final day God is our rest and let us rest assured that, as stated before, he is our Sabbath rest and we have Christ in us as the hope of Glory. 

    I will end with one last quote keeping in mind that God meets us in our brokenness "He loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to leave us that way". 

“Are you a sinner? Do not become discouraged, and come to Church to put forward repentance. Have you sinned? Then tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ What manner of toil is this, what prescribed course of life, what affliction? What manner of difficulty is it to make one statement, ‘I have sinned’? Perhaps if you do not call yourself a sinner, you do not have the devil as an accuser? Anticipate this and snatch the honor away from him, because it is his purpose to accuse. Therefore, why do you not prevent him, and why do you not tell your sin and wipe it out, since you know that you have such an accuser who cannot remain silent? Have you sinned? Come to Church. Tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ I do not demand anything else of you than this. Holy Scripture states, ‘Be the first one to tell of your transgressions, so you may be justified.’ Admit the sin to annul it. This requires neither labor nor a circuit of words, nor monetary expenditure, nor anything else whatsoever such as these. Say one word, think carefully about the sin and say, ‘I have sinned.'”+ St. John Chrysostom, On Repentance and Almsgiving, Homily 2
May the peace of Christ be with you.