Rejecting Perfection…We are All Broken!

It was a beautiful spring day, the warm sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze blowing, and the grass was turning green. I was winding my way down a familiar road, feeling each curve, radio playing, singing along. All of the sudden, I realized with a jolt that I was WAY too close to the road’s edge. The cold winter and spring rains had produced wheel-swallowing-potholes in this particular stretch. Breath caught, heart stopped, I knew that I couldn’t correct in time.

“Whump!” My front wheel fell into a small canyon.

“Bam!” My tire blew.

A sinking feeling filled my stomach.  I was going to have to call my employer (I worked as a nanny) and admit that I had broken her car for the second time in a week!

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It is never easy to admit when we break something, and even harder to admit that we ourselves are broken.

But the truth is, we are all broken. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.

Let’s keep being honest. It’s easier to hide, cover up, and fake it,  isn’t it? We feel guilty about being broken. We feel alone. Surely no one else is as screwed up as we are! We don’t think anyone would understand. It doesn’t help that the church often seems to say, “You’re broken, so get it together! Fix yourself! Look better! Or at least pretend.” Somehow as a Christian community we have created two categories of sins, “acceptable” and “unacceptable”. I’m sure that you can immediately think of sin to put in each category. What happens when your sin is thrown in the “unacceptable” pile? We get good at hiding.

We feel like God is disappointed in us (as though He could possibly be shocked by our true selves). We push Him away too.

I’m done with this ridiculous pretend perfection! DONE!

The whole world has been broken by sin, people included. We are all sinners. And each of us has empty, lonely parts, that we try to satisfy in unhealthy ways. I don’t care if you struggle with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, same sex attraction, anger, gossip, a porn addiction, cutting, or anything else. We are all broken and there is only one solution. We need Jesus. The REAL Jesus!

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We need the guy who let prostitutes wash his feet, rescued an adulteress from being stoned, chose traitors to be his followers, and said that He came to seek and save the lost. We need the Jesus who was holding children one minute and tearing up the temple with a whip the next. We need the One who says He is the exact image of the invisible God to bring us into the presence of His Father and heal us.

Contrary to the lies in our heads, our mess doesn’t shock God. He already knows. He doesn’t expect us to fix ourselves; He knows we can’t! He wants to fix us, but we have to let Him. We need to admit our brokenness and give Him all the pieces.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

What if we just stopped pretending? What if we decided to be real and honest, honest with ourselves, with God, and with each other?

I’ll start. I was ridiculously grumpy last night for no reason. My poor husband was trying to help, but I was so ornery and moody and stubborn that nothing worked. I get stuck in my stubbornness, not unlike my four-year-old, and as a result, I did not eat the scrumptious ice cream my husband bought or enjoy the shoulder rub he offered. Instead I went to bed miserable. I am not the perfect wife (shocker, right?) and I am definitely not the perfect mother. I have issues, some of which I am currently working through in counseling. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s beautiful. Brokenness is beautiful.

It was the broken people that Jesus spent the most time with: the ones who knew and admitted that they were a mess and recognized how much they needed Him. The guys who thought they were “perfect”? Well, they were usually getting rebuked or left scratching their heads in confusion.

None of us have it all together and the sooner we accept and admit that, the sooner we can find healing and life in the amazing person called Jesus Christ. I’m in, pick me!

 

Embracing Our Sin

Oh wow, guys. I am a truly awful person!

That’s not how this blog post was supposed to start. I had my post finished, scheduled to publish tomorrow at 7am, and was talking with my husband before bed. I decided to read it to him. And guess what? He wasn’t a fan. Hubby decided to make a few critiques and we got in a nice little argument. And then I got stubborn, and irrational, and trashed my post (which WordPress fortunately saved for me anyway.) We continued to fight while getting ready for bed, and then enjoyed some stubborn silence in the dark. I was doing a great job making excuses for my actions, words and attitude. Then it hit me: this was a great introduction to the point I was trying to get across in my article! I rolled my eyes at God’s humor, practiced embracing my sin, hugged and apologized to my husband, and got out of bed to tweek this blog post.

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The truth is, all of us are a sinful mess. There is nothing that we do, apart from Jesus, that isn’t affected somehow by sin. So glad I could be your example! Ug!

It is incredibly painful, to come to that place where you look at your own heart and life, and realize there is nothing good inside of you, that all of it is tainted by sin. Even worse, there is nothing we can do about it. It goes against our natural pride to admit it, to accept it.

If you are like me, we tend to justify and excuse our sin. “My husband was being rude and inconsiderate, so he deserved what he got.” That’s just a taste of what was going through my head… Agh! It sounds so much worse in writing. But it’s true, we want our issues to be someone else’s fault, we want to feel vindicated, and we want to pretend it’s not wrong.

Or, we like to cover up our problems with a good coat of pretend perfection. I didn’t have to tell you about what a jerk I was tonight. I could have just smiled and said nice Jesus things in this post. I could have made you feel bad about yourself, but made you think I had it all together. We do this. We try to fake out the people around us. We even try to fake out God. Guess what? It doesn’t work!

What if we stopped making excuses, stopped pretending, and just embraced our sin?

What do I mean by embracing our sin? I DON’T mean that we just accept our sin, and live in it, and make excuses for it. I DO mean that we become honest about our mess, with ourselves, with others, and with God. Why?

Because Jesus is the most beautiful when we are the most broken. We cannot fully appreciate Him when we are trying to be perfect on our own or when we are attempting to justify our sin. When we see our desperate need, then our salvation comes alive! Because there in the wreckage, Jesus meets us and offers us forgiveness, life, and a relationship with Him.

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I love these words from my friend, Richard. “I was broken, broken down to the reality of how much I needed a savior. I was just as bad as the most vile person imaginable. Like Jesus says “looking at a brother with hatred, is the same to God as murder”. Strangely, I found hope in that thought. It was like I could quit “trying” to be good. So I surrendered.

What stops us from getting to this point?

Why are we so reluctant to face our sin?

Maybe our sin is what’s stopping us from dealing with our sin. Maybe we are too prideful to want to admit it, and too selfish to want to stop it. Maybe we are too self-absorbed to realize that what would truly satisfy the cravings of our heart is a genuine relationship with the God who created us.

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I want to learn to embrace my sin.

It’s pretty easy to look inside my heart and see that I am broken (as I so clearly demonstrated for you tonight). I’m FAR from perfect, more of a royal mess actually! So, what do I do about it? I could look at my sinful heart and become depressed or discouraged (that’s really pride). Or I could start making excuses and try to ignore my mess (pride again). But, I want Jesus!

I want to embrace my sinful state (yup, that’s who I am) and fling myself at Jesus.

One day Jesus was talking with some religious leaders who thought there were pretty good. An obviously sinful woman came in and was scandalously loving on Jesus, crying over his feet and anointing him with expensive ointment. The religious leaders were horrified, but Jesus had this to say, “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47

It’s not like any of us only “sins a little”, but sometimes we think that’s true. And as a result, our love for Jesus is small. Seeing our sin, the very depths of the yuck in our heart, the secret things we struggle with, the thoughts, motives, etc…and realizing how lost we are…accepting and embracing that as truth…well, that makes us love Jesus MORE! I don’t know about you, but I want MORE!!!

I am going to stop pretending, stop making rules, stop justifying, stop making excuses, and just ask the Holy Spirit to show me the truth about my sin. And then when I see it, and am horrified, I am going to run to Jesus: to the cross where He died in my place, and to the empty grave proving His power over sin and death. I’m going to throw myself on Him and His mercy, believing that I am forgiven, that despite what I see, God seems me blameless through Jesus. I am going to LOVE Him, and keep getting to know Him because I CAN!!!

 

 

 

Would We Recognize Him?

 

This is re-blogged from last year with some changes and updates. 🙂

If Jesus came and visited my church would I recognize him? Would you? Most of the religious people missed him last time.

moses-573811_1920The Pharisees were some of the religious elite. They looked good on the outside. They were filled with zealous passion. They not only followed the rules in the Law, they made up more rules and followed them too. They read and taught the Scriptures. But when God showed up, the promised Savior of the world, these same religious people missed him. In fact they didn’t just miss him, they claimed that he was a drunkard, a sinner, and possessed by a demon! God, the Creator of the Universe!

Ironically, these “good” Pharisees were the only people Jesus condemned. He spent a lot of time telling parables about them, ignoring their rules, and challenging their ideology. Why? Jesus met “sinners” in the dirt, loved them, forgave them, and set them free. Why was he so confrontational with the Pharisees? Would he be confrontational with me? What if this is the answer:

The sinners knew they were sinners. The Pharisees thought they were good enough.

Grace is only good news if you know you need it!

When I am in the dirt (like the woman in John 8), totally aware of my sin, my mess, and my unworthiness, Jesus can sit down there with me and show me grace. He loves me and forgives me even though I don’t deserve it. Jesus overwhelms me with grace because that’s who He is, and I stand in awe and can’t help but love Him in return.

But, if I think that I am good enough because of the list of rules that I am following, if I think that my outward performance is impressing God, if I am puffed with pride, then Jesus can’t show me grace.

Because, grace means nothing if we think we have earned it.

I really believe that Jesus’ motivation behind every confrontation with the Pharisees was to show them their sin, to show them that they weren’t good enough, that they would never be good enough, and that they needed Him.

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These religious people thought that God gave the Law for people to follow so that they would be good enough to impress Him. They thought it was a checklist to perfection. But Paul tells us in Galatians 3 that God gave the Law to show us our sin, to show us that we couldn’t do it, and to remind us that we needed a Savior.

God’s standard is perfection. In order to be with Him, we have to be perfect. (Psalm 5:4) Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I’m out of luck. 😦 Still, He wants us! God wants a relationship with us! That has always been His goal. The consequence of sin, disobedience to God, is death. (Romans 6:23) But God loved us so much that He came to die in our place (John 3:16). If we trust in this, that Jesus died in our place for our sins, then God forgives us, adopts us as His children, and gives us eternal life! (John 3:16-18) That is good news! There is nothing that we can do to earn forgiveness. And, there is nothing more we can do to earn God’s blessings or impress Him once we have been forgiven.

Sadly, I’ve met a lot of Christians who look more like Pharisees than Jesus followers.

If Jesus showed up at your church with shaggy hair, maybe an earring or two, wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops, with Christian rap music blaring out of his rolled down car windows, would you recognize Him? Does this description make you angry? Uncomfortable? Does it make you laugh?

I don’t think Jesus fits into the predictable, churchy, sanitized box we have created for Him. He sure didn’t fit into the Pharisee’s box! What if we are missing the point (a restored relationship with our Creator) because we are too focused on religion and tradition? What if there is more than we can ever imagine right at our fingertips? Right there for the seeking, if we are willing to look?

 

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