Just over a year ago I was moved to found Broken Door Ministries. I felt one of the biggest issues facing Christians everywhere was some misguided belief that once we profess our belief in Christ everything becomes okay in our lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. Evil does not flee from us when we become a Christian. As for me, I see professing my belief in Jesus as a Christian as a necessary step of putting on my battle armor against evil.
Recently Pope Francis made this remark: “If each of us does not feel in need of God’s mercy, if we don’t feel like sinners, it would be better to not go to Mass.” In other words what he is telling us is the church is a gathering place for sinners.
How different are we as Christiansin this world from everyone else? We read about becoming a new creation, and about healings and miracles and the power of prayer yet Christians just like others are: divorced, depressed, broken, and messed up. We are as full of pain and secrets and as addicted, needy and phony as non-Christians.
It seems to me that people today seek out the message of “Feel Good Christianity”. People just love sermons where claims are made telling us that Jesus will make us all better people right here, right now. People want to believe in a message that if we just say “Jesus” we will immediately gain joy, power, healing, contentment, prosperity, success, and freedom from every type of affliction. Look around folks; this simply is not the world we live in. The feel good Christian message serves only to make the broken Christians feel bad, and we are all broken Christians.
So often today, the “Feel Good Preacher” wants us to believe that if we just pray a few special verses from a “feel good” prayer we will be fixed. Teaching this message is nothing short of a distortion of the bible’s message. We are lying to ourselves if we believe that by simply reciting a prayer or two we are “fixed” and unlike the other still broken people.
Can I ask you for your honesty for a minute? Do you consider yourself to be a good Christian? Okay, now the harder question, is there anyone reading this right now that isaddicted to food, porn or shopping? Is anyone reading this depressed, angry, unforgiving or mean? We all know that among Christian men and woman there exists sex addictions, drug addictions, alcohol addictions, abuse, racism, and other bad things. Should we be surprised by this? Not if we read the Bible. It is full of screwed up people, like David just to name one.
Why then do so many people fall prey to the modern day message delivered from so many pulpits like this: “Say the special prayer and life will be a bed of roses?” Getting beyond this “feel good stuff,” what does the Bible really say? We read this in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
To be brutally honest, life in this world is filled with death, pain and unanswered questions. It is true that we have Jesus, so therefore we find joy in our faith that one day we will be resurrected with him in glory. But while we are still in this world, we Christians remain afflicted, broken and hurting people. God’s power in us does not raise us above the human condition in this life, it simply fills us with grace and faith to know what lies ahead for us in the next.
Friends what does this all mean? Allow me to quote from Michael Spencer, the internet monk, whose article, When I Am Weak: Why we must embrace our brokenness and never be good Christians, was the inspiration for today’s writings. I drew heavily from his message. Here is what he wrote: “It means your depression isn’t fixed. It means you are still overweight. It means you still want to look at porn. It means you are still frightened of dying, reluctant to tell the truth and purposely evasive when it comes to responsibility. It means you can lie, cheat, steal, even do terrible things, when you are ‘in the flesh,” which, in one sense, you always are. If you are a Christian, it means you are frequently, perhaps constantly miserable, and it means you are involved in a fight for Christ to have more influence in your life than your broken, screwed up, messed up humanity. In fact, the greatest miracle is that with all the miserable messes in your life, you still want to have Jesus as King, because it’s a lot of trouble, folks.”
Are you depressed yet? Don’t be. Do I have any good news today? Yes I do!
You and I are people of faith. It is true that we are in a war against a cunning adversary. He deceptively works to tear down the enmity that God put in place. He wants us to believe we are not broken. If he can get us to believe that then we won’t need Jesus.
We are in a lifelong fight; being in battle is the life of a believer. The battle can only be won with Jesus at our side. Without Jesus we would not have the courage to fight on. In this life there are plenty of obstacles. The road to heaven is filled with potholes. On our journey we are all brought down again, and again and again. Through Jesus we have the courage to believe, and we have hope in the joy of eternity. The Gospel assures victory, but that victory is not ours in this life. Take a moment to read Romans 7:23-25.
During the retreats that Broken Door Ministries offers I pass out mirrors to everyone in attendance and ask them to look into the mirrors. I ask them who they see. I ask them if they see patterns of recurring sin. I ask them if they see things about themselves that no one else sees. The battle we read about in Romans is a battle with ourselves. Our ministry is dedicated to getting out the message that it is only when we acknowledge our sinfulness that the Gospel message will make sense in our life. It is then that
we see the need for Jesus. It is then that we know we need to be saved, and we need to turn to gaze upon the crucified Christ. He paid the price for us.
Jesus is there with us when we feel like we are losing and when we are confused, wounded and despairing. We will forever be broken people. But as long as we have our faith in Jesus we have his guarantee of arriving in the joy of eternal life one day. One day this fight will end and Jesus will come to pick us up and take us home.
In a rather bizarre way we must come to discover that we need our brokenness. We need to come to grips with our fallen nature. We need to meet Jesus on the cross. He has paid the price for our human condition.
Today’s “feel good” preachers can lead Christians to despair. Their “feel good” message is a distortion of the Gospel. They cause Christians to question God. Is God against them? After all, if they believe in Jesus why do they still have weakness, depression, anxiety, financial struggles, health concerns and so many other problems.
Please read this verse slowly and carefully: 2 Corinthians 12:10
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong
Notice the verse DOES NOT SAY: “When I am strong, then I am strong”. If it did we would have no need for Jesus. We need him when we are weak and broken.
When we pretend to have it all together is when we are most lost! Today, it somehow seems politically incorrect or un-Christian to admit we have sin and issues in our life. Millions of Christians live their lives dealing with porn addictions, food addictions, rage, obsessive needs for control, lying and dishonesty. If we can’t admit we are sinners in need of being saved to whom should we Christians turn? Even many pastors and church leaders deal with these struggles. We must categorically reject any teachings that make a sinner out to be anything other than achild of God, in need of a savior, in need of Jesus.
Can we just acknowledge our shared and common brokenness? Let’s be there for those who in their pain, need to meet us in our pain. It is okay and normal to struggle. Let’s quit lying to ourselves. We are all flawed.
For some strange reason we seem to aspire to all be the older boy in the Prodigal Son story, the one who stayed with his father but then looked down on his brother. We want to add to the ending of the story. We want to believe that once the prodigal son returned his life became perfect. We want to believe he went on to be rich and successful and a leader in his church and all of his problems were behind him. The prodigal son was a repentant sinner and nothing more.
Jesus spent his entire ministry on earth saving the lost and he is still in the saving business today. Let’s see what James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perserverance.” Can we all accept that we are all sinners? When we do we should turn to Jesus in our weakness and seek his forgiveness. My friends you and I are lost. Let’s admit it and find comfort in his saving arms. Amen!
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son;” But Father I believe that you sent your son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for my sinfulness. I thank you, love you and adore you Father and long to be with you in paradise.