Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fellowship of broken people

I wonder what it was like for Jesus in the desert.  I know a lot of people hear or read about "The temptation of Christ," and they (as I have been) must be inclined to dismiss what His temptation was like.  I mean, after all, He was human but also divine.  Surely His strength to withstand temptation must have been far greater than mine, or yours, mere mortals with no divinity in ourselves.  So can He REALLY understand what we face when temptation comes upon us?  I mean, how could He?

I more and more all the time realize what a helpless sinner I am.  If I am completely honest, there is not a single temptation to sin that I have ever accomplished absolute victory over in my present existence.  Anger, pride, a judgmental spirit, gluttony, (other things I'm not willing to list publicly,) I may get better, I may get stronger, but I am never ever completely "cured."   And the enemy, in his prowling about, has studied me well and knows my weaknesses and what buttons to "push."  How can Jesus relate to that?

I'm almost ashamed to admit that my temptation level isn't nearly so high as it ought to be.  "Almost" because I know in my heart I am not alone in my struggle.  I strongly suspect most (if not all) of you reading this have at least heard themselves mutter at least once in their lives "I can't believe I did that AGAIN!"  It's human nature.  Sadly, the enemy doesn't have to push nearly as hard as I'd like to lead me to uneven ground where I am ready to stumble at any moment.  What does Jesus know about that?

If I wanted to shove you into a corner and you went easily, I wouldn't have to push very hard.  But if you didn't want to go where I was trying to put you, you would resist, and the more you didn't want to go, the harder you would resist and push back.  The harder you pushed back, the harder I would shove as well.  It would become a battle, and the reality is that's probably what Christ's temptation was like.  Unlike me, His resistance was powerful, so I'm certain the devil pushed a lot harder with Jesus than he has ever had to push with me.  That's how Jesus understands my temptations, because in reality, in his humanness He had to resist far greater temptation than I will ever likely have to face.   Jesus gets it.

"Yes, well, but He WAS GOD!  So surely He was better able to resist!" This could spiral quickly into circular logic. He was man; He was God. I am man, but I am NOT God.  Except...

Except that when Jesus went away He sent a helper.  In fact, before He left He said it was BETTER that He go away so the Helper could come.  The Jesus we could see departed so that Go's Holy Spirit could come and live inside us. 

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  1 John 4:4

I think it is exactly because Jesus does understand temptation, probably beyond what any of us will ever comprehend, He made a way to help us resist it. 

And yet... still I struggle--  old struggles, same struggles and even new struggles, or old struggles dressed up in new ways... but Jesus gets it.

So why do we as Christians so often have such a hard time admitting our struggles?  We all have them. But we get all caught up, hung up.  We try to hide our own, we judge or reject others in theirs?

I don't really know that I have an answer to the question (which now makes this blog a bit of a ramble) but it's something I wonder about.

Here are my thoughts....

IF we were more willing to be transparent, the enemy might lose a lot of his power over us.  He doesn't care for the light, prefers to work under the cover of darkness, and if we shine the light on our struggles with sin, it would loosen the enemy's grip.

IF we were more willing to be honest about how tough it can be to do the right thing, we might actually be able to connect with one another and help each other.  The words "I understand" and the phrase "I get it" are powerful tools in building bridges between people, bridges they can build together to get to a better place. Someone feels alone in their struggle with sin? If you or I understand them, share our own battles, they no longer feel so isolated, no longer hopeless and no longer live under the delusion that they're the only one.  That pushes the enemy back.

"The Church" is meant to be a body of believers who live in true fellowship with honest and open communication-- all of us walking out the walk of faith with bad days and good, difficult seasons and victorious ones. It's in understanding and empathy that we might actually be able to link arms and get through better together.  (And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25)

And consider this, how much more able might we be to reach and minister to and meet the lost if we were just a little more real about our own sins and struggles?  What if when an unbeliever walked into a church or a Christian circle (since most aren't inclined to walk into churches) they actually realized that we are not a people who "have it all together" and that we are not completed works, but what if we openly admitted we are nothing more than a fellowship of broken people-- a broken people who need Jesus. 

We need to remember that more.  We need Jesus.  Just as much as the sinner who so greatly offends us, in their actions or their politics or their entire belief system-- whatever it is that in them offends us, has the same solution as the depravity in who WE are... BROKEN PEOPLE. 



We need to let it go, stop living behind facades and getting hung up on image and perception.  Every Christian on the planet is in reality a member of the fellowship of broken people.  Maybe if we finally admitted it, other people who so desperately need Jesus just might want to join.

1 comment:

JESSICA REYNOLDS RENSHAW said...

"Fellowship of broken people." Magnificent. So true. Jesus must have stood up to hurricanes where we--I--buckle in breezes. As Scripture says, the minute I think I'm standing--I fall (again).

I have to keep reminding myself I have the same, just as effective, weapon He had: His word. I need to remember to use it.