I love a Facebook Status that make me think. During lunch today, I was scanning my friend’s status updates and I read one that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. “We can’t expect the broken to live as though they were whole”. This is a quote from the book “Love and War” by Stasi Eldredge. This simple statement left me to reflect on the many facets of my life. First as a spouse…both my husband and I have been divorced and both brought children from our former marriages into our union. Divorce, remarriage, change…all these things led to hurt and pain on many levels…how many times did I expect my husband, his children and my children to behave as though they were “whole” when they were anything but? As a teacher, I have seen children come from all kinds of devastating circumstances. I would like to think I was always the compassionate teacher trying to always keep in mind the morning my student may have had before coming through my door, but honestly, I was not. How many times did I expect a student in my classroom to just sit down, listen, and do their work…you know behave like a whole person, when they may have witnessed their father beat their mother before coming to school. Even in casual encounters….the grumpy cashier, the irate driver, the moody boss…did I give them the benefit of the doubt? Did I fathom they may have just lost a loved one, lost their home, or maybe just lost their love of life because of one unfortunate circumstance after another.
After fully processing this thought and realizing I need to work on how I treat people, the next thought crossed my mind….”Wait…aren’t we all broken?” All of us to some degree have experienced heartbreak, hurt, some sort of devastation. If this is true, then really what is “whole”. Who is this “whole” person we should all seek to behave like? How do we become “whole”? As a Christian, the answer to me is obvious…we seek our “wholeness” in Christ. He offers His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness to us freely, and we can choose to accept it. Then, we adjust our vision to see ourselves as He does…a fully complete lovable creation.
Here is the kicker that bothers me: The quote that inspired this essay indicates “we can’t expect the broken to live as though they are whole”. At some point in our mature Christian walk, when do we begin to behave as though we are “whole”. If Christ is our Healer, the Mender of our Hearts, wholeness should eventually be displayed in our lives. The Bible discussed this concept when it speaks of moving from “milk” to “meat”. The Love of Christ attracts the new believer, but the Holy Spirit should compel us to deeper relationship. This deeper relationship is the place where we choose a different way of life, we behave in a different way, the place where it becomes obvious to the world, we are “peculiar”. I’m afraid we as Christians are no longer peculiar in any way. We look like the world, talk like the world, act like the world…we don’t even mind playing the world’s music in our church to show how “relevant” we really are. I guess on some level this is “neat”. It attracts those who may never have shown up at church. Everyone comes in and feels good. They enjoy the show. They hear about how Jesus loves us and wants good for us and then everyone leaves feeling good. Ok…quick rewind…I thought the reason for the cool clothes, cool songs, and cool services were to attract the broken so we can show them Christ’s love. Why, yes of course that is the reason. But, they just left church feeling as good as when they came and nothing has changed in their life. They are still just as broken as they were 2 hours ago. It seems to me, the church is no longer a hospital with the Great Physician serving as Chief of Staff, but now we are more like the back alley quack who dispenses some great pain meds. Nothing is fixed, but you just don’t feel it anymore. And what about the Christians in the sanctuary who are sort of whole…how are they expected to become “more whole” when all we preach is “I’m ok, your ok, and Jesus loves us all”. Jesus does love us all, but rest assured, I’m not ok, you’re not ok, and maybe we all need a shepherd (Pastor, Bishop, Priest…however you define this role) to tell us so.
Every time we gather around a large table, my dad will go to the head of the table and say “Well, I guess you are wondering why I called you all here?” I think this is the question the church must begin to ask. “Why are we calling them all here?”