Broken people need to become broken people in order to become better people.
Read that again. Does that make sense to you?
I am more freshly aware every day of just how broken (and by that, I mean messed up) each one of us is. Our brokenness is manifested in a variety of ways, some of which are more socially acceptable than others. But each one of us is a messed up person.
Donald Trump’s brokenness is manifested in ego and greed, which makes him a celebrity in our culture but doesn’t bring him joy or wholeness in his life.
Charlie Sheen’s brokenness was on display in full force last year as his drug abuse and sexual promiscuity made headlines. He said he was winning, but we all witnessed just how messed up he was. And in a statement that shows just how messed up we are as a culture, lots of people paid good money to see Charlie’s brokenness on full display at Radio City Music Hall and in other theaters around the country.
You could undoubtedly add dozens, maybe hundreds of names to the list of people whose brokenness is making news and even celebrated in our culture.
But the truth is, we are all Donald Trump and Charlie Sheen. We are all looking for fulfillment in life and are daily sampling sinful enticements to see if they will bring the peace or hope or joy for which our soul longs.
Earlier today, I was reminded that while most of us are able to keep our brokenness at a socially acceptable level, there are times when it takes over and spills out, wrecking havoc on our lives and bringing pain to those around us. It happens when the substance abuser can’t get a grip. When the pornography addict convinces himself one more time that he’s not hurting anyone else. When the angry mom explodes and makes her hurting child promise not to tell Daddy what happened.
We had just finished interviewing Dr. Philip Ryken, the President of Wheaton College, when I commended him for his effective “crisis management” last year after a professor at Wheaton was arrested for having child pornography downloaded on his computer. Dr. Ryken communicated quickly and effectively with concerned staff, students, parents, alumni and donors about the situation.
That professor’s brokenness had been exposed in a big way.
The good news is, according to Dr. Ryken, it appears that the former professor has gone from having his brokenness unmasked to being freshly broken by a deep, convicting work on God’s Spirit in his life.
Ultimately, the only real cure for our brokenness is for us to be broken.
This work of brokenness that all of us need is a breaking of our stubborn, rebellious will. It’s a breaking up of our hard hearts. Like dry and dusty soil that is plowed so that the soil is ready for planting, or like a wild horse that is tamed so his power can be harnessed and put to work, we need God’s Spirit to break through the stubborn, hard hearted, dusty soil of our lives so that we can again bear good fruit and serve our King.
King David’s broken humanity was seen clearly in his sin with Bathsheba. It was exposed when his close advisor Nathan confronted him.
Only later, however, do we see the evidence of David’s hard heart being broken before God about his sin. Only later did he come to a place where he saw his sin for what it really was – outright rebellion against the God who created him and who loves him. And as God’s Spirit began to break through the hardness of David’s heart, God began to heal some of the broken pieces of David’s life.
Here is how David explains what happened:
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Our brokenness – our sinful, messed up lives – lies underneath a hard, crusty shell that we think protects us from hurt and harm. For God to repair the broken parts of our lives, He has to first break through the shell. Only then can He do His transforming work in our lives.
Over and over again, the Bible warns us against a stiff neck and a hard heart. We need hearts that are soft and responsive toward the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, instead of proud hearts that resist His work in us.
We are broken people. The only way we’ll ever get any better is for God to break in and break through the protective barrier we’ve constructed. Broken people will never get any better unless they are first broken before God.
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:12-13
I hope you’re planning to be at Redeemer on Tuesday night, May 14 at 7:00. That’s when we’ll have a chance to spend time hearing more about the great work Henry Lian is doing in Myanmar. We’ll gather for an ice cream social/dessert reception and have an informal opportunity to hear about his work and to express our love for him and for his ministry.
Laura Morledge tells me we could use a few extra helpers in our Sunday morning nursery rotation. If you can help out every 6-8 weeks, you will be a great blessing to young moms and dads. Contact Laura and let her know you’re able to help by sending her an email at
I’m really looking forward to our time with Dr. Bruce Ware on Monday night, June 3. Dr. Ware is Professor of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He will present a message from his newest book The Man Jesus Christ: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. We’ll also have time for Questions and Answers that evening.
If you have friends who are theology geeks like me, this would be a great evening to grab dinner with them and then drag them along to RCC with you!
This Sunday, Henry Lian will share with us his testimony and a little about his work in Myanmar. He will also teach us from God’s word. What a privilege to hear from someone God is using in so many ways to advance the work of the gospel in a hard place.
See you Sunday.
Soli Deo Gloria!