We’re all just a little bit off our rockers, aren’t we? Sure, some of us are more so than others. Some of us might even pass as “normal.” Whatever that is.
I was just thinking about what a mess I am. There was a time when my mess was more apparent than it is now. I was the picture of someone who messed up their life, who made bad choices and threw her life away. These days, someone who knew me in a superficial way might think that I’m an upright person. I don’t have a lot of worldly success, but I work hard, my kids are kind, and I generally treat people in a Christian way. Some close family who see the work the Lord has done in my life might marvel at the change. I know of a couple at least who have said things to that effect.
Get in a little deeper, and things get messy. Outwardly, I seem to have it together. Inwardly, I am a mess. Sometimes my mess hits me hard, and I wonder why in the world would Jesus want me? What makes me any different that he should be so merciful and gracious to me? There is no good reason other than His will. I sometimes wonder over that. How can we ever think our salvation was a choice we made? How can we not perceive that the Lord has picked us up out of this world and set us on a path towards his kingdom? Then I think, I’m thankful for my mess. If I did not know I was broken, I would not know I need the Physician.
You know what, when you’re barely getting through this life because your own sin or emotional health is so messed up that you cannot function as a “normal” person, you know you need help. When I first heard that belief in Jesus was more than a get-out-of-hell-free card, but actually meant I could be made FREE from the things that destroy me, I was overjoyed!
I was also very saddened because the sinfulness I looked past became all too real. I still feel this way. On one hand, I am thankful to know that I am broken and need Jesus. Yet, I get down and discouraged by the damaging things I struggle with. I don’t want to lose thankfulness though. I thank the Lord that I am less of a mess than I was, but I’m still quite messy.
What is my point? I suppose I feel compassion for people who know they are messy. When we confess our mess, people turn away. They don’t want to deal with that. Yet, they are messy too. Maybe not as apparently messy, but in their heart is something hidden. Something destructive.
I also think about bad teachings that leave people in the mucky mire of their mess instead of pulling them out of it. I don’t like the mindset that makes light of our mess, saying because of grace we will remain messy. That is not the gospel. Jesus heals the broken. He is the Physician after-all.
And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
The more broken we are, the more desperate we are. If we have it all together, by human standards, we might not know that we need Jesus. We might be content living the American Dream, so to speak. We think that because we have a good job, a family, and we go to church like we are expected, then we have it together. We made our declaration of faith, we live uprightly, and we have all that we need. Yet, in our hearts is darkness.
It seems to me, that when Jesus really calls us out, we know it is because of his grace. We know it was not a choice we made. We know we are messes that need the healing and freedom that only Jesus offers. It is a shame when we think otherwise. It is a shame to think that we have what we need already. It is a shame to think that we can “accept Jesus” once then move on. Maybe go through the motions, but without real hunger for change.
It is a shame to think we have it together and despise those who are honest about their sin and want to heal while we conceal our own.
We should strive to learn compassion, and from my experience, those who were the most broken are the most compassionate. There might be hardness of heart that they need Jesus to heal, but there is empathy too because they know what it means to need the Physician. No matter how much goodness and freedom Jesus works in us, we should never forget this. We are messy. We are broken. We are no better than anyone else, and only the work of Jesus in us makes us whole.
Luke 18: 11-14
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
For good measure, we do not want to be like the example of the Pharisee here, saying, “I thank you Lord that I am not like this person who does not know they are broken and needs the Physician.” We do not compare ourselves to others in that way. Even in our hunger for the Lord we can become prideful if we are not mindful of this.