It’s amazing how broken our world is. Since I’ve started planting New City Covenant, I’ve become more aware of both my own brokenness and that of others. I sit down with anywhere from 2 to 10 people each week and share my story and the vision of our church with them. I also listen as people share their stories with me. I get to hear their frustrations with the church. I get to hear their frustrations with God. I also get to hear about their dreams and hopes–for their lives, for their families and for their church communities.
In both our frustrations and dreams, brokenness emerges. We are steeped in it. In our motivations for work, in our relationships with our spouses, and in our dreams for our children the stain of sin is present, but rarely seen. As a pastor, I sometimes get to see how hurt people are because they will share a bit more openly with me — but in generally we all keep our dark secrets hidden away. As a culture we value strength and wholeness, not brokenness. No one wants to let others into our broken lives. No one wants to shine light on our own darkness by talking about it with others.
Sadly, this often happens to an even greater degree in the church. Because the church’s primary business is salvation and healing from sin, it looks bad if people in the church can’t get healed. Broken people in the church are a living reminder of the church’s inability to deliver on its promises of healing and salvation.
So what do we do? What should I as a pastor do about this? Should I stop promising salvation and healing in the church? Should I kick people out of the church who have too many problems? Or, should I just encourage a culture of dishonesty where people who continue to struggle with sin are silenced? How do I deal with Jesus’ promise of salvation to us and our inability to experience it?
The reality is that God’s salvation is breaking into our world now, but only in bits and pieces — mostly we’re still stuck with our brokenness. We experience healing now as signs of the future healing that is to come at the resurrection. I’m not sure we are actually growing and progressing in our Christian walks, so much as we are experiencing continual reminders of God’s promise to fully heal us in the future.
In this life we cannot escape our brokenness, so let’s stop pretending we can. Let’s actually embrace the doctrine of sin which we all say we believe. If we did, we could be much more open about talking about brokenness in our lives. We would be able to confess our sins instead of concealing them, and we could hopefully experience the healing that James says follows a confession met with grace (James 5:16).
Confession and honest sharing are rare in the church. But every once and a while you interact with a person who tells it like it is. They speak honestly. The are truth-tellers, or to use church buzz-words, they are honest and authentic. This type of person is like a breath of fresh air on a hot and humid day. They are the glaring exception of truthiness in a world full of liars. Thank God for these people. They remind us of our need for grace. They help us to connect with God. They help us to connect with others. Thank God for those who speak the truth about themselves, and by implication about you and me as well. Jesus was full of grace and truth according to the gospel of John. The truthfully broken people among us help us to live in truth and experience grace. Join me in being this sort of truthfully broken person who confesses sin honestly and extends grace eagerly. Join me in attempting to live a life like Jesus, full of truth and grace.