“I am broken.”
I hear it at church all the time. My peers say it about themselves; my peers say it about me. Hey, I’ve said this about me! The Christians I look up to say this. “God uses the broken.” I even came across an advertisement on my Facebook page recently saying, “Your brokenness is welcome here.” This message of “broken Christians” is everywhere.
I find it interesting though, that God Himself has never called me this.
Ask yourself, has God Himself ever told you that you are broken?
The more I get to know the Lord, the more I realize some of the things I say are simply mimicry of what I’ve always heard instead a reflection of His heart towards me. When I first looked into the concept of brokenness, I was stunned! I realized I was being discipled by counterfeit human wisdom more than I was discipled by Truth, the Word of God. How could it be that my Bible never says I am broken?
It is both the worst and best feeling to read Scripture and recognize that my mind is being offended. It is the worst because it is an indicator that I have been believing a lie, but the best because I then have the opportunity to choose to renew my mind according to the truth.
Claiming we are broken may sound noble and humble, but it opposes everything God says about us.
Let’s look at what we say is true about ourselves every time we say we are broken.
Bro·ken ˈbrōkən/ adjective
having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.
(of a person) having given up all hope; despairing.
Why would we ever claim this as our identity?
Every time we say we are broken, we are choosing to step back into our old creation that has already been crucified with Christ when Scripture promises us that in Christ, we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Claiming we are broken is completely antithetical to the Gospel message, the truth of the Bible, and God’s very intent in sending His Son to die for the world.
It is important to know who we WERE - sinners, broken, and hopeless (Rom 3:23, Rom 5:8, Eph 2:1, James 2:10).
It is also important to know who we ARE - righteous, whole, full of hope, saved! (Rom 5:17, 6:18, Eph 4:24, Heb 9:26, 10:10, 14, Col 1:27, 1 Thess 4:7-8, 2 Pet 1:3-4, literally so many more!).
The word salvation in the Greek is “sozo” means to be saved, healed, delivered, and made whole. It encompasses being restored altogether back to God’s original intent in the garden: complete and lacking nothing.
Despite what the pastor at the pulpit might be saying, what does God say? God has never called us broken in Christ!! If He has never said that, it is not true, and we do not have permission to believe it about ourselves.
I am saved by Jesus and my life is hidden in His.
I am not broken.
I am whole.
Claiming we are whole is not prideful or arrogant, it is TRUE. Believing and walking in truth is humility. The whole Gospel message is about wholeness; To be saved is to be made whole.
At times, our culture cares more about being relatable to people than revealing the transforming power of the Gospel. Being relatable is important of course, but should never be held higher than the value of the whole truth. When I look at Jesus’ life in the Bible, I think He cared a lot more about revealing the Father than He did about being relatable. Jesus upset social norms wherever He went. But the hungry ones were still attracted to Him because He was different; He knew His identity and carried the Father’s delight. We can still be relatable to people by telling people that we used to be broken, but Jesus made us WHOLE.
I want to clarify a few things… I do not mean we will not feel broken sometimes, but that is not truth. And it does not mean we will not face trials and persecution and struggles, we will, but that does not affect our identity.
Let’s take a look at 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 in the Amplified translation.
We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body.
Paul was afflicted, pressured, persecuted, perplexed, struck down (circumstances)… but NOT crushed, NOT driven to despair, NOT deserted, and NEVER destroyed (identity). This is a brilliant picture of Paul hanging onto His truest identity, wholeness, in the midst of inevitable trials and hardships. He recognizes the opposition, yet does not take it as the final word of his identity. We are not broken, hopeless, or despairing if we are in Christ. If we think we are one of these things, we are missing the TRUTH of the Gospel and the reality of Kingdom living NOW, not just in Heaven.
Broken situations happen because the unsaved world is fallen and the enemy is the ruler of the world right now. The world is broken. But sons and daughters of the living God are not. God never has and never will leave His children in that place of identity unless they choose not to believe what He says about themselves.
In the Old Testament, God made the people whole by visiting briefly, a foreshadowing of the ministry of Jesus. Isaiah 57:15 says God dwells in holy places and also with the brokenhearted and contrite IN ORDER TO REVIVE THEM! And this was even before Jesus! There is always the end of the story. God never leaves us broken. For us today in the New Covenant, God makes us whole by the MAN OF JESUS… paying for our brokenness once and for all (Hebrews 10). It was part of His ministry to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, not leave people broken until Heaven (Isaiah 61, Luke 4:18). There is so much HOPE for us because of what Jesus paid for on the cross: wholeness. Once and for all.
We are whole not because we act perfect, but because of what Jesus paid for. The behavior of wholeness, of identity, comes as the result of believing we are already made whole because of the cross.
I want to note one last thing. There is a difference between a broken (unwhole) identity and being broken (in dependency and adoration) before God as an act of worship. The latter is something the Lord finds delight in and is actually looking for.
Psalm 51:17 reminds us that God will never deny a broken and contrite heart. This is clearly seen in the story of Mary pouring out everything she had on the feet of Jesus in John 12. She was completely broken in adoration before Jesus. Hungry. Desperate. Undone.
One of my favorite songs right now has these lyrics: Oh the peace that comes // When I’m broken and undone // By Your unfailing grace. (listen here) This is a beautiful picture of Biblical brokenness: becoming humbled by the Lord’s incredible grace so much that it draws out a response of worship. Brokenness has nothing to do with identity here, but rather a posture of humility knowing every good thing comes straight from the Father, not ourselves.
We can be dependent on the Lord and still be whole in our identity. Jesus did this every day of His life on earth and modeled to us what normal Christianity should look like - living constantly in His Father’s affirmation and only doing what He saw His Father do. Jesus was whole, yet dependent. This is what life can look like for us, too.
We were made to be holy, righteous, complete in Christ. That is God’s will for us, and something any and every Christian can step into. Today. We were made to be undone before the Lord, poor in spirit and dependent on Him. We were made for wholeness.