We are Brok en

We are broken in (fill in the blank).

I started writing this post a while ago, but life happened and I put it aside.

I just moved for the 24th time or maybe it was the 34th. My wife had major surgery right after the move, so I took on some housekeeping responsibilities while she was recovering. I have honed my skills at making ice and loading the dishwasher. When I told my wife I would cook, friends stepped in and brought meals. But this post has not been far from my mind and I am picking up where I left it in another town.

In thinking about how we are broken it occurred to me there are many things we could suggest. We live 20 centuries removed from the first church. We speak a mongrel language. We live in a culture much different from the culture of the early church, which was certainly influenced by first century Jewish culture. It is not surprising that things got broke along the way. We had things broken while moving ten miles.

The Bible has much to say about brokenness so to acknowledge that we are broken may be a step towards change. This blog may be a move in the direction of discernment and repentance. Maybe we have become so accustomed to what’s broken we don’t know any other way. It may be helpful to consider brokenness in general.

Isaiah wrote about the brokenness of God’s people. He reminds us that, until the Messiah restores all things, his people will live with some measure of brokenness. Is. 30:26 “ Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.”

Paul implied the brokenness in the church when he wrote in Eph. 5, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

The fact that Christ is in the process of sanctifying the church should remind us we are not there yet. We are broken. I know there are those who don’t see it that way.

For example, I was in Atlanta years ago and saw a sign for The Perfect Church. I thought it would be helpful for me to find out the key to this level of attainment. So, I called the church. I got an answering machine. I found the key. There was nobody there.

When I was in seminary, I heard Bernard Ramm say that fundamentalists believe in the Fall of Man in Gen 3 except when it comes to their ability to interpret Scripture. In that area, he said, they believe they are infallible. I won’t comment further on that quote except to add that there are Christians who believe similarly that everything they do is right/biblical.

Earlier posts have enumerated areas of brokenness related to the CGGC.

In one of the first posts we were reminded that we often read the Bible with 21st century lenses and miss the original meaning. We were also made aware that we tend to think of our culture as the norm.

There are those who think the way we worship is the rule by which all worship must be viewed. I grew up with two rules in church: “Sit down and shut up” so I had to change my focus when I worshiped in other countries. You can’t sit down and shut up in a Haitian church unless it is your funeral.

I am familiar enough with Missionary Movements to know that some missionaries have taken their culture with them and tried to get people to act like them not necessarily like Christ.

So, what is the point of this verbal perambulation?

First, we ought to allow room for grace. If I thought everybody in the CGGC was perfect I would have to move on because I still need grace. We are all in the process of being sanctified Paul told us.

Secondly, we need to acknowledge we have a way to go. We are all on a journey and we will only be like Christ when we see him face to face. (1 John).

The posts we have seen so far may be a good starting point for reflection.

I am a reader. I tend to read about 6-8 books at a time, so I added a few to my list that address the concerns already raised. I highly recommend, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Richards and O’Brien. This book by IVP speaks to cultural issues and interpretive issues raised in the initial posts.

We are broken but not without remedy. Paul also wrote that Christ “gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to repair the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ….”

3 thoughts on “We are Brok en

  1. Lew,
    One of the most helpful concepts I learned in seminary was the concept of the “already but not yet”. For instance, we are already part of the Kingdom, but the Kingdom has not yet fully come. You point this out by identifying that the process is complete when Christ returns. Until then we continue to be “cleaned up” in the Lord. That is sanctification.

    I appreciate the book recommendations. I hope we get references to many outside resources here.

    I also love that you give us two points to focus on. Thank you for starting by pointing us to grace – for ourselves and other during this time of sanctification. And I think you are correct in that this blog can be a tool in moving us forward in your second point of focus.

    The analogy that has helped me most in this regard if that of a good map or GPS device. It doesn’t help to only know the locus of your destination. You must also know where you are. Without those two points of information maps and GPS are fairly useless.

    I pray we know deeply where we are, but also know where we are going so we can deal in the currency of the Kingdom as we travel the way there.

  2. Mike, I appreciate your comments on this post. I have found the book I mentioned helpful in giving a different perspective.
    I once asked a group I was training when they completed their education and at least one of them gave the date of her graduation from High School. Of course it was a trick question. I hope I never complete my education and reading this blog is a way to help me continue. And then there are the books…
    I review books as a hobby and so I get a lot of freebies. I try to stay within the ambit of Christianity and spirituality and since they are new or not yet published I can see what is coming.
    Last year I read two books that had to do with the brokenness of the church, only one of which I could recommend. One was written by one who loves the church and the other was dripping with anger. I hope we can look at the church with eyes of love because I believe that is what Christ does even while offering painful counsel.

    1. Lew, I agree with you that we should have a love for the church – the body of Christ. I understand being frustrated with the church but I also cannot comprehend how someone can claim to love Jesus and yet hate his church.

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