On brokeness and new life
I hesitate to cite the source of this quote, as I don’t want the controversial nature of the figure to get in the way of what is, I think, a good point:
When God’s people confess their sins without truly repenting, they are agreeing that they are guilty of evil but are not living lives of repentant transformation. This is [what happens in places] where everyone glories in how broken they are but neglect to live out the Spirit’s power for new life.
(I did edit out an unhelpful pejorative).
It’s possible that we’re seeing an over-correction, of sorts, to the kind of ‘put on a happy face’ Christianity we’ve all come across. It is a good thing that we can be open, honest and vulnerable about our failings and weakness, to recognise our brokeness. But I think he’s right (I think this is the kind of thing I was referring to, but not able to articulate, in this post). We can easily fall into the trap of glorying, and celebrating, if not wallowing with others in this brokeness, instead of seeing it as the starting point from which the Spirit wants to lift us from. Nathan Tasker puts it well in his song:
Well I come just as I am
oh but here’s the mystery
While I can come without changing
Your love changes me
We need to do more than confess – to admit our failings, we need to repent – to turn from those things, and take up the new life that Jesus promises.
If we fail to recognise our brokeness, then we are just like self-righteous pharisees, and we give a false picture of our need for Jesus to change us and what the Christian gospel is really about. If we’re just people who recognise our brokeness without looking to the sanctifying work of the Spirit (that is, the life-long transformation to be like Jesus) then we are not only missing out, but we give a false picture of what it means to be a Christian. We need to both recognise our brokeness, and keep looking and pointing to the One who heals that brokeness and gives us joy and the power to walk in new life; the One who is at work in us to make us more like himself: Jesus.
How can we strike a healthy and realistic balance between recognising our failings and living the new life that Christ gives?