posted on: Jul 07, 2017
Living Life In Brokeness and Vulnerability
I recently heard Andy Crouch on a podcast… he was talking about this statement that gets used by churches, universities, and coprorations:
WE’RE GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD!
Something has always bothered me about that declaration, even when I've declared it! But I didn’t have words for it.
Andy Crouch said, “BEWARE OF WORLD CHANGERS BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT YET LEARNED THE TRUE MEANING OF SIN.”
Why do we use that rhetoric? We use it to inflate our sense of significance.
AND THAT’S THE CORE OF SIN; AN INFLATED SENSE OF SIGNIFICANCE.
In the garden Adam and Eve had oversight of the whole thing, co-laboring with God to rule over creation.
Then the serpant comes to whisper, if you eat this, you can be like God. What do they want? They want an inflated view of significance.
I’ve been learning a lot about this over the last few years.
I think as a leader, church or market place, we feel the expectation of knowing and doing everything right all the time, especially if you’re young.
When we started the church I was eager to be a pastor, not just in title or position, but be someone that people actually wanted input from. So naturally, the hardest thing for me to say was, I don’t know, or yeah, I struggle with that too.
Parenting for instance; I use to want to put on a facade that I knew how to parent.
Truth be told, I struggle to parent well. I struggle to know what to do at certain times and what not to do at other times. I need lots and lots of grace in parenting.
I now tell people, parenting is hard. You need grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to love your kids well. Then, I can share truth from the scripture and share what works and doesn’t work in our family life.
After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God lovingly pursued them. He made a way for them to come back to Him and to come back to each other.
We’re told in Genesis 3:8 that God was walking in the Garden in the cool of the day.
In Genesis 3:21 He provides animal skin to cover their shame. In other words, blood was shed to cover their shame… sound familiar?
In Genesis 3:15 He promises that one day he will overcome the serpent whose lies they believed.
Because of the fall, God weaves into the fabric of life the curse of “THORNS AND THISTLES”.
He explains to them how all of life from this point forward will be difficult, painful, and frustrating. And he breaks this curse down into two primary areas… RELATIONSHIPS and WORK.
Relationships in that they will now be marked with pain and misunderstanding. We will be disappointed in our marriages, families, workplaces as well as in our churches.
Where intimacy was the order of the day before sin entered the world, now we have manipulation, power struggles, insults, defensiveness, withholding, and loneliness as a result.
At work success doesn’t come as easy. We face disappointments. Even when we reach goals we don’t feel satisfied. We have tension in our relationship with boss and employee and vice versa.
Why? What was God’s intention? Was He just being cruel?
No, His intention is that as we face the THORNS and THISTLE of life we will draw close to him and see our need for a savior.
That we would recognize our BROKENESS and become VULNERABLE with Him and with others.
After all, the Gospel of Jesus reconciles us to the Father as well as to others.
But instead of drawing close to the Father, we do one of 3 things…
1. We Flee
We don’t want to go below the surface and deal with brokenness so we run away from it. We might bury pain by engaging in an addictive behavior… drugs, alcohol, food, sex, porn…
We might just focus on a small portion of our life all the time so as not to deal with the pain and brokenness.
There might be pain in your marriage so you just focus on your kids or on your career.
Or how about this… you just busy yourself with all kinds of activities because you know if you slow down you’ll have to face the pain.
2. We Fight
Or we become angry, bitter or violent because life is not going our way. As Christians it might be that we take out our anger on politicians or Christian leaders who aren’t as doctrinally sound as we are.
Under the surface we are often angry with God because of unanswered prayers or because we think we can do a better job than He can.
3. We Hide
We cover up how damaged and fractured our lives are by avoiding people and situations. We can’t admit that we don’t have it all together so we don’t let people know or see the brokenness.
In which of the following situations do you tend to flee, fight or hide?
__________ Conflict or tension in marriage/close friendships
__________ A stressful deadline at work, home, or ministry
__________ The unexpected end of a valued friendship
__________ Financial uncertainty and stress
__________ Misunderstanding with a coworker or friend
__________ And indefinite setback of a personal goal or dream
__________ (add your own)
Let’s take a quick look at Paul’s life and his theology of weakness.
The apostle Paul was arguably the most productive Christian to ever live. He planted churches all over the known world, he wrote huge chunks of the NT, he raised up leaders and took several beatings for Jesus.
And yet, he experienced a lot of set backs and challenges. People questioned his authority, they questioned whether he was a REAL apostle.
One reason was because of his understanding of weakness and brokenness.
He was vulnerable in his writings. He admitted to having issues.
In fact in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 he makes this interesting confession…
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Scholars argue about what the thorn was; a physical ailment, the agony of people rejecting him, a spiritual temptation toward bitterness or anger. We don’t know and if God wanted us to know, he would have put it in His book.
This thorn kept him dependent on Jesus. It kept him from being able to say, I can do this on my own.
The Message paraphrase translates the thorn as “the gift of handicap”.
We all have this… It might be childhood pain from abuse, an ongoing illness, emotional scars, a tough child.
Our world treats weakness and failure in a very negative light. It says, “You’re a loser.”
God has another view of it. He wants to redeem it, to allow it to be used in your life to keep you from yourself. He wants to be show His strength.
Check out Paul’s growth in life…
In Galatians 2:6, written in AD 49, after being a Christian for 14 years, he writes about the other apostles in this way, “As for those were held in high esteem – whatever they were makes no difference to me.” He appears headstrong and proud.
Six years later, in AD 55, he writes the Corinthians in a more humble manner: “I am the least of the apostles.” (1 Cor. 15:9)
Five years after that, in about AD 60 and twenty-five years after becoming a Christian, he proclaims, “I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 3:8)
Finally, two years before his death and perhaps after walking with Christ for thirty years, he is able to say this, “I am the chief of all sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
He isn’t beating himself up, he’s seeing himself rightly in light of who Jesus is.
CS Lewis wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
This is how Paul summed it up…
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
We find freedom in our confessions. We bring what’s in the dark, into the light.
The Bible is full of people who were under qualified and yet when they realized their lack of ability, God powerfully used them.
Moses stuttered, David’s armor didn’t fit, John Mark chickened out and deserted Paul, Timothy had ulcers, Naomi was a widow, Paul was a murderer and persecutor, Abraham was too old, and on and on it goes…
Write a Resume of Weakness
Deficiencies in your training or education:
(I never learned how to…)
Example: Peter was never trained in the Scriptures, he was a fisherman
Missing gifts and/or skills:
(I’m not good at…)
Example: Moses was a poor public speaker
Obstacles with regard to personality or temperament:
Example: Thomas was prone toward skepticism
Questionable aspects to your past history and testimony:
(I used to….)
Example: Paul was a former executioner
Weaknesses in spiritual and emotional maturity:
(I need to grow in…)
Example: Abraham needed to grow in faith
Share with others!