I wanted to add this page so that anyone who felt they needed a longer read or something in more depth could find it here. There are words I’ve written and spoken which have resonated with the listener and the reader so these I will start to share. No offence intended and none taken if what you read isn’t your cup of tea and you leave the page unread.
What are you wearing? Some thoughts on Colossians 3
Beauty for Brokenness
We live in a very broken world, today more than ever with the recent tragic and untimely deaths of the two young policewomen in Manchester. Brokenness isn’t an easy topic or something we’re always comfortable with. But I imagine at some time or other every one of us has felt broken. We’ll have a look at that a little more closely in a minute.
I wanted to start with a verse from the Message which really says what I want to say very clearly. It comes from Colossians Chapter 1 verse 20
So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross
I wanted to look at what brokenness represents for us and what it can become through Jesus. We get broken in so many ways and there are so many stories in the Bible where people are broken by all sorts of things.
Broken by sin
If we look at the story of the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8 we read that she was exposed for the sin she was allegedly committing. She must have felt terrified that she was going to pay the price for that sin, humiliated by those who’d dragged her in front of Jesus, broken as a person, condemned by religious leaders and destined to face a painful death. You probably couldn’t get much more broken than she felt right then.
We can see in the story of the paralytic, brought to Jesus by his friends, that Jesus knows it’s the man sins that needed forgiving first. His situation must have made him feel as if he’d been broken, his health wrecked and him dependent on friends to care for him.
Broken by ill health
Someone else who was broken in health was the woman bent double. She literally seemed almost broken in two. How pain filled her days must have been, how terribly drab and miserable not being able to look up to the sky or to those she loved.
The woman who had the issue of blood for twelve years knew what it felt like to be broken not only in health but to be isolated and lonely, broken by a sense of loneliness even within her own family because of her situation. The lepers too , knew loneliness and isolation and rejection.
Broken in Spirit
In Mark chapter 2 we read the story of the man who had lost his mind and was filled with evil spirits. He was literally driven mad and spent his days screaming and slashing himself with stones. People still harm themselves today when the pain of mental anguish gets too much. What a broken existence he must have led when we read that
He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him.
Broken by Circumstance
We read the story of the prodigal son and see that this man was eventually broken by circumstance. He had made some wrong choices, went the wrong way and ended up having experiences he should never have had, that his father most certainly wouldn’t have wanted him to have. In the end he was broken by physical hunger and a sense of his own unworthiness. What drives us into the arms of God?
Many people are broken by personal tragedy, none more so than in the world right now. Haunting images of war torn countries, starving children and recently bereaved and grieving relatives provoke deep responses from us. Their suffering seems almost unbearable.
The woman at the dinner party was broken by the rejection she’d experienced from the men in her life, expressing her brokenness through tears as she washed Jesus feet.
Broken by loss
Perhaps our most crushing experiences are when we feel broken by loss. Our grief is raw and we lose hope that we will survive without those we lost. Having worked with bereaved families for several years I have seen the pain of grief first hand, seen how devastating it can be and how easy it is to get lost in it.
It isn’t just death that causes us grief, we may have lost our jobs or homes or our marriages. The mourning is just as acute and we feel just as broken, sometimes just as if someone had snapped us in two.
- Brokenness hurts
- Brokenness feels like a place without hope
- Brokenness feels like a place of loneliness and isolation
- Brokenness is a place of fear and anxiety
- Brokenness is a place of vulnerability
- Brokenness can be a place of shame and guilt, a place of captivity, of weakness.
But we don’t have first claim to brokenness. God’s heart was broken in the Garden of Eden, His character never changed despite the pain His beloved children put Him through. He kept on loving despite our behaviour then and since. Yes there was a consequence, there is always a consequence to a broken heart, but God never gave up on us and sent His Son to put us back together and to reconcile us to Him.
God’s heart was broken again at Calvary as He watched His beloved Son die to save a broken world that had rejected Him. If we look at the Bible we can see just exactly what Jesus did with brokenness and broken people.
Jesus identified with broken people
He identified so closely that He came to live amongst us, to share our everyday lives, to be fully human and understand all the joys and sorrows of human life. Hunger, thirst, joy sorrow, tiredness, work, rest, feasting, fasting, storms and sunshine, family life and solitude: He experienced it all. That’s what gives us comfort, that He knows our every weakness, that’s He’s shared our humanity and yet was still prepared to die for us.
Jesus spent time with broken people
Jesus lived His earthly life amongst the ordinary folk of the day. The King of Heaven and yet a common man
He didn’t shut Himself away in monastic seclusion or huddle together just with the religious leaders of a town.
No He was out there, with the thieves, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the people on the margins of society that few either cared about or abused. His great heart of compassion cared for the least of one of these.
And nothing has changed.
He’s still out there with the homeless, the refugee, the drug addict, the lost and broken people in our society, He’s still out there for the least of one of these.
How many broken people have we spent time with lately, whose needs have we served? How many prodigals have we welcomed home, or have we driven them away with judgemental attitudes or condemnation?
Jesus loved broken people
Jesus heart was moved to pity by the needs of those around Him. I believe He was so open when He looked at people and talked with them that all they felt was this great love, this great force that overwhelmed them and transformed them. He fed them, prayed for them, challenged them with tough love, and wept for them.
And nothing has changed.
How strong is our love for broken hurting souls? Have we fed the hungry, given to the poor, challenged those who need it, encouraged the fainthearted or stood alongside those who mourn?
Jesus healed broken people
Jesus didn’t just minister practically to people, He fixed them. Can He really heal our brokenness? Yes He can. He CAN do it because He isn’t afraid of our pain. He’s right in there with us, in the midst of whatever storm or circumstance we are going through.
Sometimes the raw pain of another’s tragedy or trial feels as if it is too much to bear, we’ll avoid the grief if we can. Not Jesus, He’s right at the point of heartbreak, feels our sorrows, sees our tears.
He not only forgave the sins of the paralytic he told him to get up and walk. He encouraged the haemorrhaging woman by commending her faith. He restored the woman bent double by straightening her up and releasing her from her pain. He raised Jairus’s daughter from death to life. He refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery. He showed the amazing love of the Father to the prodigals. He restored sanity to the man possessed by evil spirits
- Brokenness can be soothed by Jesus
- Brokenness can be the place where hope begins if we allow the Lord of all hopefulness in to our hearts
- Brokenness can be a place of companionship as we seek the company of others like ourselves. Other pilgrims on the journey where we can support each other
- Brokenness is where vulnerability and weakness become strength – the apostle Paul says that in our weakness Jesus is strong. It’s not a shameful thing to be weak, after all the weak will shame the wise. It’s our pride that can get in the way of us asking for help.
- Brokenness becomes the place where perfect love casts out fear and anxiety. I John 4 reminds us “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear”
- Brokenness is the place where shame and guilt are taken away and sin is forgiven and glorious grace abounds. “There is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit – and this power is mine through Christ – has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death”
- Brokenness becomes a place of freedom, a release from captivity.
“The Messiah will lead you out of exile and bring you through the gates of your cities of captivity, back to your own land. Your King will go before you, the Lord leads on”
Jesus powerful words on the night before He was crucified give us life. “This my body which is broken for you”
Have you been broken by sin, sickness, circumstance or loss?
Are you hurting somewhere?
Do you need healing?
Are you feeling weak and vulnerable?
Are you wrestling with sin and guilt?
Do you want to be made whole?
Why not let God fix you through his Son Jesus, who was broken for you, took your sickness, your sin, your guilt, your shame and became your wounded healer?
I finish with these words from Hebrews chapter 4, again from the message
14-16Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
TAKE the mercy
ACCEPT the help