Brokenness has many faces. Heartbreak, broken marriages, divided families, financial lack, financial excess, wounds from the past, mistakes, addictions, wars, and even trade and environmental issues that fuel poverty around the world.
Most of us would rather avoid the brokenness on the list above. When we’re broken, we want to quickly move on, and when we see someone else broken, we either want to fix the problem, explain it, or ignore it. But what if realizing our own brokenness is one of the best ways we can start to heal? What if admitting our brokenness is a necessary ingredient for obeying Jesus’ commands?
One practical way our church is trying to follow Jesus’ two commands (love God and love your neighbor as yourself) is through mentoring, fostering, and adoption. Many of our staff and attenders foster or have adopted children. Our campuses work with local partners to connect people to all aspects of these opportunities. It’s one way God is healing the people in our church, and the communities our churches are in.
Here’s what’s crazy, though—we’re all adopted. Not just our staff but our whole church and all Jesus followers. According to Galatians 4:5, prior to Christ, we were like children, bound to worldly law, without a father. But God sent Jesus to buy our freedom so He could adopt us as His very own. In other words, without Jesus, we’re all fatherless, lonely, vulnerable captives. All have sinned and fallen out of God’s family—and all have been invited back in. We’re all adopted. Our church isn’t just going around solving problems in communities because we’re extra special. Nope. We are part of the problem, and God, by His grace, still loved us into His family. We’re just taking action because of how we’ve been loved in our brokenness.
Have you ever wondered why Scripture—both Old and New Testament—is constantly calling us to care for the captive, poor, rejected, misunderstood, vulnerable, and lonely? Think about it. Isaiah 58, Matthew 25, James 1, Psalm 68, and so many other Scriptures describe caring for these as pure religion, true fasting, and what separates the accepted sheep from the discarded goats. Perhaps these Scriptures are merely reminding us to follow Jesus’ two greatest commandments. Maybe we’re all orphaned, broken, lost, and captive. Maybe we’re being called to love our neighbors as Christ loved us—the way God adopted us. The way the Holy Spirit loves, comforts, and electrifies our broken self with godly power.
Dr. Brené Brown
We’re all adopted and we’re all broken in some way. Yet, for some reason, our eyes are sometimes blind to our own brokenness while wide open to our neighbors’ shortcomings. We sometimes forget the “as ourselves” part. We intend to love someone but we end up thinking we’re reaching down instead of across. We want brokenness to disappear so we try to save instead of serve. When we fail to see our own brand of poverty we attempt to rescue others from their surroundings instead of entering into relationships with people to be changed together. Dr. Brené Brown, author, TED speaker, and modern vulnerability philosopher says it well, “… we’ve divided the world into ‘those who need help’ and ‘those who offer help.’ The truth is we are both.” So good, Brené.
Author and preacher Oswald Chambers takes it to the next level: “The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession. … The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.” That’s where we want to be, right? The adventurous life on the frontier where Jesus works. What poverty are you unaware of in your life? What person or group of people have you written off? How do you feel about brokenness in yourself and others? When you realize your own brokenness you’ll begin loving the people in front of you like Jesus loves the soul inside of you. This is the good work we’ve been commanded to do.
Do something about it: Spend some time alone, even if it’s just a few minutes, thinking and praying. Search your heart’s brokenness. Ask God to begin to show you how He can use your brokenness to heal you and others.