Some Christians seem to thrill themselves with repeatedly announcing that they are “broken,” and praise other Christians who are open about their own brokenness. Maybe Christians take on these disparaging adjectives to distance themselves from self-righteous bluster, or to stay humble (e.g. “I’m no better than you, homeless prostitute! #humble #blessed). I get that, I do. But ultimately, it’s complete nonsense. Here is why —
Uno – it’s not humility that’s spurring this “brokenness” talk, it’s usually a declaration of absolved responsibility. People know they’re screwing up and weak, but instead of making steps towards repentance, they want to make sure everyone knows they are so completely helpless there is no way they could have *not* made that terrible decision.
Duo – Christians are not supposed to take on our weaknesses as our identity. Even the field of psychology is ahead of the curve with this —
If a person recovers from or is recovering from cancer, do we refer to him or her as “being the cancer?” No, we do not, because we know that cancer is something that one can recover from and isn’t necessarily permanent. Many are hopeful that, as with the majority of cancer prognoses, the individual will eventually be cancer-free. What is more, the cancer does not define the individual’s existence while battling with the disease or after recovery.
When someone with mental illness is labeled as “OCD” or “bipolar,” there is that perception that being “bipolar” sums up his or her whole existence. We do not take into consideration the person’s actions (good or bad) because in our minds, our perception on the label he or she has been given is our basis. Even worse, the individual who is labeled often internalizes the tag to the point that they feel that their entire entity is summarized with it.
– from an article edited and reviewed by psychologist R. Y. Langham, M.M.F.T., Ph.D Full length article here
This is not to say that we ignore our weaknesses. But we confess them to each other so that other people can exhort (what a great word!) us, and we can repent! I almost hesitate to use the word repent because it conjures up an image of a hypocritical, salivating evangelical preacher, but I love the word because it doesn’t just mean “feel bad about what you did” it means “to turn.” Repentance isn’t about feeling self-deprecating guilt, it’s about doing a 180. If we do emphasize our past and present weaknesses, let’s do it to emphasize the joy and hope that God has/will triumph(ed) through them (e.g. 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Trio – let me give you a list of verses in the biblio that talk about how broken– as in dysfunctional — Christians are.
There you go. Good stuff.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed
– Isaiah 53:5
And [Jesus] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.
– Luke 22:19
Wait, what’s that?! Jesus was broken… so that we could be broken, too?
“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
– Hebrews 10:14
Jesus was broken so that we even have the possibility of sanctification – aka holiness, aka NOT BROKEN. Not only did Jesus break so we don’t have to, but he didn’t stay broke either. So the “Omigersh I’m so broken” talk does not belong anywhere in the gospel narrative.
Broken is what we were. Let’s embrace who we are now, and start dead-sprinting toward the wholeness and function we were made for– through grace alone!*
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
- There’s a place for broken-heartedness, or being contrite — but I’m talking about broken as in dysfunctional.
- I understand to a non-Christian absolutely all of this is nonsense. That’s okay with me. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s super encouraging.
*1 Cor. 6:11; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Tim 3:17; Galations 3:3