The truth is not that I was once part of the problem of the brokenness of the world, the very same brokenness that wearies me now; the truth is that I am still part of the problem of the brokenness of the world.
The truth is that I am still getting it wrong. That I am still breaking relationships and betraying friends. That I am still messing up and turning back. That I am still losing my temper - and my tongue. That I still wrestle with attachments and addictions and habits and hang-ups. That I am still, whether I like it or not, a hypocrite, for I am still getting things wrong even when I know what's right.
The Christian witness in the world would be a lot stronger if we could just admit this, to ourselves and to others, but we don't. We double-down on our understandings and on our "faith" and on our "righteousness," whatever that means to us, and we continue to try to insist that we are getting it right. In fact, usually that we are the only ones in the whole world who are getting it right.
There's been an argument for a long time that the reason that we do this is because we're afraid that if we're not getting it right, then we present to the world a God who is not who He says He is. That we basically tell them, through our living, that God is a liar and that this religion that we cling to is just that - a religion, not faith. A social system of worship, not an allegiance to a good God. The argument has been that the reason we so doggedly insist that we are, in fact, getting it right is because we don't want to let God down. We don't want to create any reason for the world to believe that He's not who He says He is (or who we say He is).
The irony, of course, is that if we are preaching a God of grace and love, the only way to show that He is who He says He is is to be persons ourselves who are in need of...grace and love. Broken persons who are messing it up and are radically dependent upon Him to save us from ourselves. Persons who don't just love the Cross because it is a nice idea or because it seems important in the narrative that we subscribe to, but because the life, death, and resurrection of Christ actually changed something for us.
It's weird that we are a people so dedicated to showing how because of God, we don't need Him any more. How He came and rescued us so thoroughly and so completely that we grew out of our dependence upon Him.
This is how the world keeps looking at our Jesus and saying they don't need Him, by the way. We preach to them a God who saves a person into not even needing Him, and they look at their lives and figure they are already pretty good, so they don't have a need for God. They've already achieved the ultimate aim of our faith - they've outgrown their need for God.
But hey, it's cool if you still need Him. You're just not "there" yet.
And all of a sudden, we understand how God has come to be considered a juvenile pursuit in our world. How He has come to be seen as a crutch for those who can't manage their own lives. Because that is the very truth about Him that we are actually trying to preach when we try to pretend that we aren't part of the problem now and maybe never even have been; we aren't broken.
That's why it's so important that we are willing to confess the truth about who we are - about who we once were, yes, but also about who we still are. I am still part of the problem of brokenness. I am still a person in need of grace and love. Because when we are able and willing to say this, we are able to show the world that God really is who He says He is - a God of that very grace and love - and that Calvary wasn't a band-aid or a crutch; it is the crux on which this whole world turns. That Cross is everything.
But there's something else that holds us back from saying these sorts of things, from being this kind of honest about ourselves, and it is a very strange thing indeed. What is it? I'll tell you tomorrow.