Somewhere in our minds, we all believe it’s wrong to be broken. We see weakness as a weakness. The only problem is this goes against the very nature of God. See, we were made in God’s image, and Jesus Himself was broken. We are made new in Christ, and what the first Adam lost is bought back for us, but Adam was broken. Before the fall. God has destined you for greatness, but that greatness comes, in part, by embracing your weakness.
Let me assure you I am in no way saying that God isn’t perfect, or “whole” in the sense of His nature as totally self sufficient, omnipotent, omniscient and all those other “omni” words. No, God is perfect, and God is strong… but God is weak at the very same time. We often miss this, because we talk about Jesus without ever really staring at Him. If we let Jesus be who he is, and don’t try to put him into the definition of what we think God should look like, we’ll see it.
It’s about Christmas time, and in this season we get a glimpse into this mystery. We see God, in a manger. God, a helpless baby. If I were a “blogger”, I would probably turn this into a Christmas post, and you could all talk about how “nice” it all was, but as I’ve said before, I’m not that interested in just making another blog. This is about changing the world, and your heart, and mine, and experiencing the deeper reality of what it truly means to be a redeemed “human”. I love the Christmas metaphor, but we tend to stop there. Please, I invite you to stare at that manger and be moved by the weakness of God, but it doesn’t stop there.
Take a moment. Close your eyes. Look at Him.
See Him on the side of a mountain, at 4 o’clock in the morning, groggy. There he is, burnt out from ministering to 5,000 people the day before, totally emotionally spent, talking to His Father. Hear him expressing his frustration that the disciples still don’t get it, praying for more energy so he could somehow get through this new day. Then finally, his heart erupts with sorrow. His friend was murdered by Herod. His dear friend and family member, John. He is devastated. Growing up, John was the only one that ever understood him even a little bit. Now his friend is gone, and Jesus knows that although this act of murder was in his power to stop, it had to happen. Jesus, trapped by being God and man. Trapped by his humanity. Weak.
Stare at the Jesus of Passover. .. Breathe the air in that room. See him sitting there. Your friend, your rabbi, the one you have spent every day with for three years. You see him looking around the room. There is a heaviness you feel in the room, that seemed to fall as dinner was reaching a close. His eyes are moist, filling with tears. You can feel joy and pain radiating from him. He begins to break bread, saying that his body is broken for you, then says that the wine is his blood. You don’t get what he’s really talking about, because you are so distracted by his eyes, and the quiver in his voice. It’s like he knows he’s leaving, but all he wants is to be with you. All you know is your closest friend is filled with grief, as if today is the last day he’ll ever see you, and you don’t know how to help him.
Stare at Him in the garden of Gethsemane. Dripping with sweat, mixed with blood, in turmoil. Hear the desperation in his voice as he cries “FATHER! Please! Let this cup pass from me!” God, begging God not to go through with it. God in the flesh, wanting anything but the very thing he came here for. Wrestling for something, anything else. God, just wishing the pain would go away.
See Him on the cross, broken, bleeding, hopeless. Listen as gasping for breath, he squeaks out
“My God…why…have…you… forsaken…me?”
Feel His heart, as he feels nothing but anguish. Feel as the sin of the world fills him, rests on him. Feel the pain of abuse, rape, mocking, depression, and every sin you have ever committed, tearing his heart to shreds. Nothing but darkness and hopelessness filling him until his heart literally bursts.
Now, imagine him before Thomas…
They are healed, but his skin is permanently marred. You can still see where the crown of thorns once sat. And those hideous holes, still in his wrists. You thought if He was really God then surely his resurrected body would be perfect. Yet here it is, scarred.
Now look to Him in the book of Revelation. A Lamb, slain. The blood still visible on his white neck. Not even a ram, but a lamb. Weak, slain, broken, and glorious.
The plan was never about erasing brokenness. It was to heal it. Healing is messy, and painful. It leaves scars. His perfection doesn’t look as “perfect” as you thought. Jesus wears these scars forever as a sign that he is forever, by nature, vulnerable and “weak”. We look at our messes, our brokenness, our hurt, our weakness, and we try to hide it. We are ashamed of it and we call it “bad”. But if you listen, I promise you that you won’t hear Jesus’ voice agreeing. He chose brokenness so that we might understand what it means to truly be vulnerable at all costs. Being strong isn’t found by being “all better”, it is found by being weak. Like Paul, we are called to embrace our weakness, because that is true strength.
I think Paul was well aware of his issues, and I think he celebrated them. Just a thought– maybe when Paul said to the Corinthian church that he came with “weakness and trembling” he actually meant it. Sometimes, Paul was afraid. Sometimes, he was insecure. Paul was weak not because God didn’t want him to be strong, but because God enjoyed him in his broken state. God wasn’t expecting Paul to be strong, or to have it all figured out, or to never mess up. Paul made mistakes, post-salvation! God made it clear to Paul that it’s better that he remain weak, because in weakness he can enjoy God’s strength!
Weakness is simply the effects left over in our lives from fallen humanity. Jesus felt that too. He was wounded by people around him. People lied to him, and abused him, and he had to deal with that pain. Our Savior had to go to his dad at ten years old and cry about how the boy down the street hurt his feelings when he called him a mean name. The author of Hebrews puts it this way:
“Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way, just as we are…” (Hebrews 4:15)
Every weakness. Felt, just like us. He never sinned, but he was broken. We hide our hurts; Jesus feels them. We run from our pain; Jesus faces it. We deny our issues; Jesus embraces them. By becoming sin on the cross, he felt the pain of our lives more than we ever could or ever will. You only feel the consequences of your sin, but he felt the sin itself.
I think the reason why so many of us never feel truly loved is because we never embrace the beauty of our brokenness. When we are willing to feel our pain, and to share that with Jesus and with those that look like Him on earth, we get to feel their comfort and love. When we let ourselves be broken, and see that that’s ok, we are freed from self hatred. When we realize that Jesus knows and feels our pain more than even we do, we stop feeling alone. When we admit to the world that we’re broken, the burden of performance driven, law based Christianity lifts. Honest people that own their issues are never looked at as phony.
For too long, we have tried to hide our weaknesses. I say show them off! It’s a part of who you are, and the journey you’re on. It’s a part of the pain that Jesus shared every ounce of. It’s a part of living in authentic love. You can only love once you have felt true love (John 13:34). You can only be loved when you let others in to your weakness. You will only do that if you realize that your weakness is ok. God was never interested in taking the fixed you. He always, only, wanted all of you. Until the perfect comes, we are broken, on the road of life.
We are broken, hurting, and vulnerable, in intimate fellowship with a broken, hurting, and vulnerable God.
Being comforted by the Comforter begins with being ok with exactly where you are now. He isn’t mad at you, or dissapointed in you. He’s
He wears holes because you are not whole. The deepest hole, however, is in His heart. It’s the hole filled with longing, to be totally unified with you. This hole aches with desire to relate to you right where you are, to share in the pain he already felt in full for you, and to heal it with His loving comfort. Your hurt was meant to be healed. Your brokenness was meant to be faced, felt, and embraced. Weakness is your greatest strength. This is the gospel.
My friends, welcome to the freedom of beautiful brokenness.