A Broken Obsession
In her recent post on Her-Meneutics, Megan Hill discusses “The Very Worst Trend Ever.” And, no, it’s not using the term YOLO or naming your children after fruit or even wearing leggings as pants. Hill thinks the worst trend in the Christian community right now is non-stop talk about how we are broken. Hill is a mom, so she noted how many mommy bloggers out there have recently made a point of talking about how “awful” they are because their kids eat processed food or aren’t reading Shakespeare by age 3. She points out that much of these admissions by moms come as a backlash against a culture that presents a perfect image to others. Moms have decided to get real and be honest with their flaws. But, Hill believes that although some of these anecdotes are funny or light-hearted, there are some theological implications. Hill says that in this backlash against perfection, Christian culture has become a bit obsessed with the idea of brokenness. While she applauds the recognition that we are broken and fail before a holy God, she worries that we can tend to trivialize actual sin.
“But these online confessions tend to underestimate sin. We read about spilled milk and overflowing laundry baskets and call it brokenness. We applaud the authors for being messy and raw. But sin is serious, and such posts can blur our understanding of what failure actually is.”
I am not a mother, so I really don’t have any insight into mommy blogs (although from what I hear, a lot of moms do feel cultural pressure to be “perfect.”) Also, Hill might consider me guilty of feeding into the worst trend ever, because if you’ve ever read my personal blog, you’ll know that self-deprecating humor is my specialty. However, where Hill’s post resonated with me is when she began talking about how dwelling in whatever brokenness we may have experienced does something to deny the redemption that Christ brings through His blood.
All of us are tempted. All of us fail. All of us are broken in one way or another. But I don’t think we should dwell there. I’ve noticed this trend a lot the past few years. We talk about where we fail or how we’ve been hurt. And sometimes I think this is cathartic. Instead of dwelling in shame or covering things up, which the “perfect” Christian world probably painfully encouraged for a long time, people have started to share truthfully and honestly. I think this is a good thing. But as we share our struggles and failures, we can also rejoice in the fact that God has given us His Holy Spirit to counsel us and lead us toward truth and an actively obedient faith. Because in spite of what we’ve done, He is making all things new. So what I was grateful for in Hill’s post was the reminder that because of God’s grace, we can move forward.
“Grace covers. And it covers again and again. Thanks be to God. But if we stop there, as so many writers do, we are only telling half of the story. Titus 2:11-13 says, ‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.’
“Grace covers my sin, and then it pushes me to be more like Christ.
“As Pastor Harry Reeder said, ‘Brokenness is never an objective in the Christian life.’ Instead, because of God’s grace—and never apart from it—we press on toward holiness (Phil. 3:12-16). Receiving grace for my failures also includes Christ’s help to turn from sin and embrace new obedience.”
We are broken. And some have experienced deeper or more painful brokenness than others — sometimes through no fault of their own. But what is so beautiful about the story of the Scripture is that God is bringing all of creation back to Eden. One day, He will return and all will be as it once was. That day has not yet come. But through the incarnation — through Jesus’ death and resurrection — the process has begun. God reconciles us to himself and invites us to share His Gospel, His restoration with the rest of the world. He wants to heal our brokenness so that we can live for Him in truth, obedience, justice and love. The brokenness is not where it ends. It is not where we sit. As we accept God’s grace, we recognize that He has called His people to a standard so that we can represent Him to the rest of the world. We move from being broken to being restored.
About the Author
Denise Morris Snyder is a mom, wife and part-time discipleship pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary.