Adobe Christian Church
What has been established?
That we are all, in some way broken. That God has a propensity to use broken people to further his message of hope and love. That in our brokenness we experience suffering and through that suffering we gain perspective that allows us to see into the brokenness of others. That in our suffering we each experience our own unique brand of Alone, and that Christ volunteered for His own Alone so that we might not suffer alone anymore. That our suffering has a purpose
And now what?
Now that we have a name, explanation, and solution for our condition, where do we go from here?
To action. To true redemption. To grace and mercy.
We all must come to understand that the grace we are extended by Jesus, while it is for us, it isn't meant to remain stagnant. We are broken, yes. But we are to be broken vessels. Conduits of grace and mercy, conveying Gods message of hope and freedom from one broken soul to another.
Our redemption is not ours to keep. We are not to remain Alone in our redemption any more than we are to be Alone in our suffering. We are to leverage our experience, strength and hope for the benefit of others. By sharing our stories and listening to theirs. By offering assistance without expecting reward. By speaking out for those who have no advocate. By being the hands and feet of Jesus.
We are to love the broken among us back to right relationship as was done for us. We are to be broken people healing broken people. This is the kind of service Paul spoke of (2 Corinthians 12:9). That by acknowledging our brokenness and sharing it with others who are afflicted with the consequences of their own personal suffering, we allow the grace and mercy of God to shine through the broken vessel that is our life and lead others to redemption.
Then they follow suit. And it continues.
And the key to it all is this:
We don't deserve redemption. We are broken people in a broken world and we can find no way out. But, our Father in Heaven has created in His Son Jesus Christ a way out of "no way". We have been extended Grace and Mercy in abundance, and all that is asked of us is to share it, practically, with others.
Who are we to refuse?
Instead of questions, please share any opportunities you have had to share the Grace and Mercy that has been extended to you.
Broken people are uniquely equipped to be vessels of Gods love, particularly to those who suffer from similar brokenness. We have a perspective on life that allows us a glimpse into the lives of others; that gives us a voice in their darkness.
How does our suffering and how it relates to Christ's work on the cross lead to redemption for ourselves and others?
Suffering is a personal experience. As we are all individuals, our suffering will be exclusive. Again, while our brokenness may be similar or even identical, the way we suffer as a result of that brokenness will be unique to each individual. This is a result of our life experience, our personalities, our hopes and dreams, and our current circumstances.
Suffering is different for everyone. In our suffering we are isolated. We are inconsolable. We are without hope. There is no light or solution. No one else can experience the depth of my suffering in my brokenness. The pain I felt in my darkest moments was mine alone to bear. As is yours. We cannot share it, not truly.
We are Alone.
And in that we can identify with each other.
The one thing that our suffering has in common is the Alone. The nagging emptiness. The open pit in our stomachs. The inability to feel connected to others, even while surrounded by people. The Alone is what we have in common. God knows this, and it's here where He meets us.
Jesus' suffering was also solely for Him. He alone experienced His unique pain and darkness. He experienced His own Alone (Matthew 27:46), to the exclusion of everyone else. This is how it can be said that He took the punishment for the sins of all men. By undergoing His own suffering, He can understand the suffering, the Alone, of every man or woman who ever has or will live.
For through our sins we become broken, and in our brokenness we suffer. Our suffering is unique for ourselves and we are Alone. The Alone is the ultimate repercussion of sin, separated from God and man. Administered to ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves alone. We all experience this consequence, and justly.
But Jesus Christ volunteered for His suffering. He walked through His Alone so He could identify with ours. He joined us in our suffering so we might not suffer alone anymore but that we might have the opportunity to be relieved of our suffering.
To be redeemed of our loneliness and be set right before God and man.
To truly never be alone again.
Questions: What does your Alone look like? How does the idea of Jesus enduring His own Alone to identify with yours affect you?
What is it about the broken that makes us uniquely qualified to reach other broken people?
One would think that it would be the healthy among us that are better equipped to heal, and in certain circumstances that is true. What I know to be true however, is that the scar we are left with after successfully passing through the fire of our own damaged lives, are readily identified by the hurting people around us.
A good friend has said, "Never trust a man who doesn't walk with a limp". The imagery may not be literal, but the intention is. Our struggles leave us marked. We become de facto members of a new tribe, with experiential capital that allows us to speak into one another's lives.
The perspective that comes with walking in brokenness is one that someone who has passed through this life unscathed cannot understand. It lengthens our stare and slows our stride. Perspective, as usual, is everything. It allows us to view the broken among us as peers, as partners in the struggle. We need it to relate to each other. Being able to identify with another human in their pain may be the single most helpful thing that can be done for that person, or for ourselves in our own recovery.
But where does that leave us with God? How can we hope to relate with perfection? If our brokenness is so complete, how can we ever hope to feel the relationship and friendship that is spoken of in the New Testament?
We can't. Not if we limit ourselves to the path that our pain lays out for us. We will forever be caught in the downward spiral of meaninglessness caused by our specific trial.
But if that pain had a purpose, things could be different. If there was a redeemable quality to our pain, that would change everything. There is, and it is found in our suffering.
Christ's work on the cross put him through suffering that He couldn't possibly describe in words. His suffering was so complete that it encompassed everything that He was. It swallowed Him whole and consumed him. He was alone.
Just like us.
By volunteering to go to the cross and endure His own immeasurable suffering, Jesus gave us a means to identify with perfection, to be a member of His tribe, to belong. Which brings us full circle.
Why are the broken uniquely qualified to reach other broken people, and why does mutual suffering seem to preclude recovery?
Because it works. Because we need relationship, and in a broken world we identify through suffering. Because God knew that the only way to reach us would be through the suffering of His only Son.
Questions: How has your suffering brought you closer to Jesus? What do you think about a broken world needing broken people to reach it?
I have always identified with the notion that we are all broken in some way. Looking back, there were times when I knew there was something wrong, something missing. It wasn't until I tried to fill the hole I had discovered in my soul that I discovered what my particular brokenness was. I was, and am, a broken vessel.
A vessel, for the purpose of this ongoing discussion, should be considered an object designed with a purpose. Something created with intention, with a specific objective in mind. Viewed with this perspective, we are all broken vessels. Imperfect, malfunctioning, not operating as we were designed.
We all have our struggles. We have all felt the sting of regret and shame when we are reminded of the wreckage our brokenness has caused. There is solace, however, in knowing we do not have to be defined by this.
Biblical history is full of examples of broken vessels being used to fulfill the purposes of God. Samson was misled by his own lusts until he no longer found himself in control of his life. David chased his desires and it led him to adultery and murder. Peter is the classic New Testament reminder of someone who can never get it right.
All of these men, and many more, were redeemed in their brokenness by their Creator and restored to greater heights than any of them could have imagined. The same redemption is available to us.
Not only is it available, but, it could be argued that God prefers a broken vessel to carry out His work. It has been shown throughout Scripture (Abraham, an idol maker; Rahab, a prostitute; Paul, the self proclaimed "worst of all sinners") that broken vessels are often chosen for the highest of callings, and quite often, to further the redemption and salvation of others.
Why would God choose the broken to fulfill his purposes? Why would He pick the damaged to lead? Why would the Creator of the universe decide that the best suited to heal the fallen would be ones who had fell so far themselves?
Because who better to understand how to heal brokenness, than someone who has been broken?
Questions: Have you been broken? How has God led you to healing? How has your brokenness allowed you to help heal others?
As we begin the new year, I am inclined to think about years past. The wins and losses, ups and downs, friends and foes. This year, it is the significance of the company we keep, and the consequences of the choices we make that stands out.
We are all familiar with the concept that the company we keep will, in large part, define our character and the way others see us. But do we really believe this applies to us? Or just to others? Don't we sometimes believe we're exempt from that? That the choices we make about the company we keep don't carry as much weight for us as they do for others?
The fact is, we are defined by the company we keep. One example is the story of Absalom and his struggle with identity as the son of King David and heir apparent to the throne of Israel.
We are introduced to the character of Absalom when he takes his sister into his home to recuperate after she is raped by her brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:20). In his book, A Tale of Three Kings, Gene Edwards describes Absalom in this way:
Men felt secure just being with Absalom. They even longed to have time with him. Talking with him, they realized that they themselves were wiser than they'd realized. Such a revelation made them feel good. As he discussed problem after problem and solution after solution, men began to long for the day when this one would be their leader. He could right so many wrongs. He gave them a sense of hope." G. Edwards
However, Absalom allowed the praise of others and his own ambition lead him away from his family, and into the snares of underminers and zealots.
Absalom ultimately moved from brother and son, to conspirator and usurper of the throne.
The company we keep will ultimately define who we are. The community we are apart of will shape the people we become. This is not optional or possible. It is a fact.
However, don't allow this fact to drive you into an isolationist mind-set, one that seeks only it's own survival and not the well-being of others. For while it's true, the company we keep defines us, the righteousness that we are afforded by the Cross is not for us alone. It is for those who do not yet understand that the company they keep is separating them from true Life. We can remain in our community of Faith and still reach out to others. We can become the catalyst for change in their communities.
What if, as we are afforded Grace and the community of believers (Romans 5:8), we are to afford that same Grace and community to those who don't yet believe.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
Questions: How does the company you keep influence you? How are you making yourself available to the people around you?