I’m sorry, I can’t seem to be concise on this topic. For now, this will be the last in this series. But I have this section that was intertwined with Tuesday’s post that I decided to pull out and make into a separate post.
It is at the heart of all the issues we deal with as Pastors’ and ministry wives. Frankly, all of us deal with it.
AT THE HEART OF OUR PROBLEM IS SIN…
I have alluded to sin being at the root of a lot of problems earlier. But I’d like to talk a little more about this topic. In general, I believe it to be true that sin and its effects are at the heart of our problems, but I’m not sure it is always helpful just to label everything as “sin” and move on.
That assessment can feel very judgmental, especially when it comes from someone who doesn’t know me or the facts very well…and frankly, it is very unspecific. It’s a lot like shooting buckshot into a room of people. It hits a lot of people, causes pain and irritation, but doesn’t solve anything.
I find the term “brokenness” to be more helpful at times. Certainly sin is intertwined with brokenness but to label the relational results that stem from a child who was sexually abused, for example, as simply “sin” seems harsh on its face. While there is truth to it, it is only partially true.
She was horribly sinned against and there must be a way to recognize that as part of the problem. Will she need to forgive and deal with aspects of whatever sinful lifestyle she is leading? Yes. She can’t use the way she was sinned against as an excuse to live a lifestyle that is damaging both to her and/or her family…no matter what it stems from.
And it will be a painful process to peel the layers away and decide not to hold that sin against the person who sinned against her, yet confront as appropriate.
Yes, it is true she will not find freedom and joy until she has learned to deal with and repent from the sin she is clutching onto, particularly if she is using it as an excuse for bad behavior. But for us to keep crunching on her to forgive the person who wronged her without an acknowledgement of how horribly she was wronged seems like we are being a bit ostrich-like in our approach!
So much of our approach to dealing with sin and brokenness is related to a process that GOD is working in another person and not our need to defind GOD and how He has orchestrated the lives of other people. The very people hurt the most have been those sinned against…by the power sturctures of many of our churches. Not many deal with these issues in a way that mirrors the love of Christ. But I digress.
GOD OFFERS FORGIVENESS FOR SIN AND HEALING FOR BROKENNESS!
When sin came into the world through the sin and disobedience of Adam and Eve, brokenness came along with it. It is good to remember that the grace of GOD offers forgiveness for sin and healing for brokenness. But neither is a passive process. Both include change which involves repenting and changing my ways.
I often find it can be a semantic difference. I have found the people who blandly label everything a sin can come across as uncaring…so can I when I get on that horse and ride it too hard.
So I often use the word brokenness to include sin and all that goes with it.
- It can include my focus on me and mine to the exclusion of caring for others, even others I don’t like very much.
- It can include the ease with which my feelings can get hurt by the passing words of others while I expect to be able to speak bluntly and with abandon to them.
- It can include my nursing of unforgiving attitudes for months and years…to the pain of the people who must live near me.
As you can see, sin and brokenness are intertwined in these illustrations for sure!
Does my brokenness cause me to tiptoe around others so I don’t make demands on them? Is that being humble or is it being distant because I am afraid to risk relating to people who could hurt me?
I’ve realized at times that I didn’t want to ask for help for fear of getting a “no”, or even worse, a lame excuse. I’d rather not know that about someone else. I don’t want to go there. It is too painful. And by staying in my safe cacoon, I hurt them.
GOD HAS PROVIDED A WAY TO KNOCK DOWN THE WALL OF SELF-PROTECTION THAT I HAVE BUILT SO I CAN BE RECONCILED TO HIM AND THE PEOPLE I HAVE BEEN CALLED TO SERVE!
They are trying to befriend me and I’m building a wall of self-protection. Whether it is caused by sin or brokenness, the solution will be the same. I must change. I must repent and go in a different direction than I am going. I must stop living my life in fear.
I must be honest before GOD and with others…to the point of being vulnerable. For some of us, it can even feel like death. But that is the point where we grow!
THE CHURCH IS THE COMMUNITY WHERE GOD HAS PLACED ME TO GROW IN GRACE…
That is why GOD gave us the Church. The rubbing up against each other in real life is what GOD uses in the sanctification process for each one of us. It is a lot like a mirror where we see others, but more importantly, we see our true selves. It isn’t always a pretty picture.
So I put myself out there and ask for help. There is a vulnerability in doing it that GOD can use in ministry. Who knew?
IT IS IN MY WEAKNESS THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST IS SHOWN TO MY COMMUNITY!
When He talks about making His strength perfect in our weakness? Maybe that is what He is talking about. He doesn’t want us to “have it all together.” His power is shown in our weakness! He has put us in the Church because we need each other. We need to learn to ask for the help we need AND to be willing to put ourselves out for each other.
We need to make ourselves vulnerable to each other. When we take off our masks of superiority and our smug togetherness, then we start the process of actually making friends and having the kinds of relationships that honor Christ…and the people around us.
The kind of friends that grow in community, that will last a lifetime, across the barriers of status, culture, generation, political party, and even major opinion differences, will only grow in this kind of environment…one of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. We don’t have to agree on every issue…except that we love Christ, the One who unites us and reconciles us together through the blood of Christ!
So when we get down to the bottom line, the truth of it is that all of us in the Church are in the same boat: Pastors, Pastors’ wives and church members alike.
We are all sinners and broken people. We are all in need of the grace of GOD. We are all in need of the redemption. He has provided for us so that we can forgive and be forgiven; so that we can be reconciled to both GOD and mankind.
HAVE YOU BEEN RECONCILED TO GOD?
ARE YOU RECONCILED WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU?
photo: © Timur Abramov |