Hello, you wonderful humans. I was out of the country for a time, but right after that, I moved from IL to MO, so things have been a bit crazy. Oxford, Derbyshire, Edinburgh, London, Elmhurst, St. Louis.
I am done moving around for a time, so it’s back to blogging about things I care about, for people I care about. Usually that means Jesus topics, for you lovely readers. So here we are.
There seems to be a few movements within the Christian church among people in my generation that I am rather excited about. The first is a return to theological orthodoxy- taking Scripture and the doctrines of Christianity seriously and not just looking for the next “cool” thing to latch on to. This I celebrate with a big, hurrah!!!
The second movement I have noticed is an obsession among believers to feel the need to continually be admitting to “being broken.” Now hear me out- brokenness is a prerequisite to coming to Christ. We must all realize our inability to do anything good apart from Him, to realize our absolute depravity and sin, to see that there is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. We are screwed up folks in desperate need of a Savior. Or, as saucy author Francis Spufford says, “We humans are all carriers of a disease I like to call HPTFTU.” HTPFTU is his slang for sin, and it stands for “A High Propensity to F*** Things Up.”
I don’t ever use that F word. I hate it, really. Yet, it seems to capture the seriousness of what we can’t avoid about ourselves, about the very thing in us that we can’t escape. We really are screwy. We think we know what we want, and we don’t. We want to do the good thing but we keep on doing the bad thing, and we just aren’t sure how to stop. So our HTPFTUness is something we must accept before we can come needy and empty handed to receive the grace of Jesus. Inherent in our very selves is the ability to keep screwing things over in our lives. Yeah, it’s not super flattering.
We need saving and we can’t save ourselves. Got that? It’s a reality in your life? Ok. Good.
So this “brokenness is cool” movement that I’m referencing is under a bigger umbrella that my generation greatly values which is authenticity. We see authenticity as being one of the greatest goods imaginable– the holy grail of connection. Here’s the unspoken understanding between us and everyone else: you don’t try to pretend to be something you’re not, and I won’t either. We can smell phonies a mile off. Because of this ability to smell fake anywhere at any time, I think Christians have felt the need to point to our own sin and say, “We struggle too!” We want unbelievers to know that we too have our own pornography addictions, overeating issues, gossip problems, cheating on test moments, and on and on and on. We want them to understand that we are indeed “sinners,” and can relate to them in their broken places. In a way, we imagine this binds our hearts together with them, and that it might even make them more open to receiving the truth of the Gospel.
Here’s what I want to say: It’s okay to be broken, but it’s not okay to hang out there. The hope of the Gospel is that there is a way out of the brokenness–and yes– that in the midst of it we have Christ’s love. But if the Gospel is not transformative, it’s absolutely NO good at all.
The reason that newcomers to AA are linked up with a mentor who has already been through addiction and come to the other side is because they are already surrounded by “broken” people who encourage them to drink. Those aren’t the folks you want trying to help these guys out of the pit of alcoholism. Even those on the other side of sobriety remember daily how easily they could slip back into their drinking habits, and most still refer to themselves as “alcoholics.” Not as a depressive sort of Eeyore syndrome, but as a way of saying “I’m not clueless about what is in me anymore. I know what I’m capable of, and it’s ugly. I don’t want to live that life anymore. It’s not who I am.” In the same way, Christians move through brokenness by God’s grace and long for healing. Until we get to heaven we will all be “sinners.” We are not afraid to claim that identity because it is the very one that led us to Christ, but once we come to Christ, our primary identity becomes child of God.
Brokenness is not a state of being for the Christian, transformation is.
The Bible doesn’t say, “The old is mostly gone and the new has kind of come.” It says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!”
God promises to carry out the good work that he started in us– there is always a sense of forward motion. That doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle with sin, or that it will always be say to say yes to the right thing and no to the wrong thing. It means we believe God is changing us, and fight with Him to see it happen. Grace changes people. It’s too powerful to do nothing. The beauty of what the Christian holds out to the world isn’t a light under a basket, it’s a light on a hill.
So here’s the call to my generation: Be real. Be honest. Be really honest. But don’t you dare hold up your brokenness like a prize when Jesus Christ died to give you a new heart. Instead of constantly pointing to our brokenness, we MUST point to Jesus– the One who died and rose again so that there is no longer ANYTHING in the world that can keep us from the love of God.
His love is changing us.
His love is making us new.