Prior to meeting Jesus, we were lost and broken in desperate need for a Savior. However, such a necessity was not bound to our pre-salvific state. As believers who securely hold salvation by the name of Christ and are actively undergoing the process of sanctification, our need for Jesus is a moment-by-moment requirement that saturates every aspect of our newly regenerate selves.
Over the years some in church culture have needlessly set a standard that we must enter its doors perfectly cleaned up. However, is that what Jesus demands from us? To put on a flawless mask before our brothers and sisters in faith appears to champion a personal victory over the world as opposed celebrating the one Christ won for us. Instead, it is Jesus Himself who calls us as we are, assuring those who are weary and heavy laden that in Him we have the opportunity to find rest (Matt. 11:28-30). Although the Lord longs for us to live fully in His likeness, He is not afraid of our troubles and afflictions. Our Savior was birthed in a messy stable, ministered unto a sinful and lost people, and nurtured disciples who hailed from smelly fishermen’s wharfs; He lived in a world that grotesquely rejected and contrasted the indisputable beauty and glory that comes with knowing the Father. If our Lord is able to love and teach alongside people such as us, why are some in our churches so concerned in making sure our outward image is without blemish or need of Jesus’ assistance? Perhaps it is time we seek to showcase the Lord’s beauty not through our own façade, but by living a life that reveals our humble need for Him each and every day.
Make no mistake, as followers of Christ we are called to live as Jesus did. Charged to go into the broken spaces of the world and spread the goods news to the imperfect, the confused, the broken, and the hurting, joining together as a singular people who understand that we must seek the One who can take on our burdens, bring restoration and healing, and give us rest. However, in the comfortability of the flesh it can become easy to not want a certain kind of brokenness, only seeking out certain types of people to assist; those that come easy to our reach, or lack of reach. Our flesh even poses internal questions that attempt to subtly validate such exclusivity: What if such a person throws off the dynamic of the ministry group? What if they require too much attention? What if they are a negative influence over our flock?
Just as Christ was unafraid of our brokenness, so we too should never require a person to be anything but who they are, mess and all, as we seek to share and live out the gospel with them. Instead, we should remind them of the beautiful image they bear and show them that we too are in just as much need of the Lord’s grace today as they are. Our job as stewards of the gospel is to engage, just as Jesus did in our own messy spaces, and lead people to Him through His Spirit who empowers us by welcoming them as they currently are to then grow in holiness as we seek Him first.
Such is the opportunity of those who hold the gospel throughout our communities and this form of ministry is part of the glorious message of reconciliation demonstrated by Jesus Himself. He did not seek out the perfect, but instead the ones who were in dire need of assistance. His invitation is to come. It is not a request for us to put on our Sunday best, but is simply a call to get up as we are and go to Him, baggage, mess, wounds, and all. In doing so, humbly coming to our Savior for rest and reconciliation, we are able to receive the new life He breathes in us and become instruments of His own beautiful redemption song.
As missional communities we understand that even if we are broken, we seek Christ together because we can help carry each other’s burdens to His feet. Therefore, amongst our churches we must ask ourselves if we are modeling the same heart Jesus had. Are we welcoming in the broken, seeing ourselves in them? Or are we looking at others from our doorsteps, waiting for them to get their acts together enough to bring them inside our homes? Instead of sitting on the congregational stoop, let us be active proclaimers of the gospel, walking into messy lives, inviting broken people into our homes, and showing them what it means for us to meet the One who carries burdens, patiently withstands imperfections, heals wounds, and washes away our sins.
Have you not heard? The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matt. 9:37). If we are the Bride of Christ, if we are His image on this earth, I pray our communities grow to recognize the harvest to be found amongst the mess of this world—for all are welcomed to lay their burdens down and be lifted up as we seek Jesus together.
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