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All Cleaned Up

"Do we call people to a moral life or to follow Christ?"  This was one of the questions asked of us at a conference last weekend.  It caused me to pause.  Granted, following Christ can lead to a more moral life, but many times we are calling people to "clean up" and describing this as the Christian life rather than calling them to follow Christ and allow Him to do the tran

"Do we call people to a moral life or to follow Christ?"  This was one of the questions asked of us at a conference last weekend.  It caused me to pause.  Granted, following Christ can lead to a more moral life, but many times we are calling people to "clean up" and describing this as the Christian life rather than calling them to follow Christ and allow Him to do the transforming.
I had to ask myself the question, "How have I "cleaned up" my act for the sake of looking put together?"  Again, nothing wrong with being disciplined, but if that discipline does not come from Christ, then it is just our own cleaning up.  When discipline comes from something other than Christ that it is a mere patch job, not a transformation from the inside out.  This is what I was challenged by.  What patch jobs have I done on my life, what patch jobs have you done and what patch jobs do we require of others?
When we "clean up" or perform a patch job I believe there is something we are trying to avoid.  I believe we are trying to avoid our own brokenness.  We do not want to come face to face with our own brokenness, because when we do, it is not pretty, it is painful to heal and we have no power – Jesus does.  When we ask people to "clean up" we are asking them to ignore their brokenness, to deny the healing and transforming hand of God and to take control of their lives.
This is radically opposite to what Jesus requires of us as He called the Pharisees, the supposedly religious ones, whitewashed tombs.

Psalm 51:16-17 says,

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

If this is true, then why do we believe that God is pleased in our moralizing and patch jobs?  If we ignore the fact that we are broken and the fact that others are broken, then where does God do His redeeming work?
Brokenness is not an easy thing.  It is not easy to see, to process through or to heal from.  Brokenness knocks you to the ground and you cannot get up.  Brokenness requires that you depend on a Savior and He promises to be there.
How can you begin to see the brokenness in your life?  How can I begin to see the brokenness in my life?  How can you allow others to see it in their lives?  What message will you take to the world?  Will you see their brokenness and show them the Savior or hand them a cleaning kit?

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3 Comments

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    Sharifa Stevens

    Messy

    Laura,

    How do we tell the difference between a cleaning kit and the work of the Spirit? I ask because I deal with this question a lot because I am Authenticity Snob. Anyone who doesn’t look broken offends me.

    But there have been times in my life where God hasn’t felt close, and I clung to the "ritual of righteousness," staying faithful in spite of feeling so far from the Lord.

    It’s a struggle sometimes, you know?

    I’m so glad you are bringing to light the pathology that we’re guilty of sometimes. Our righteousness is like filthy rags without the infusion of God’s work in us.

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    robyn rochelle eubanks

    Whom do we receive? Who does Christ receive?
    Really great write! And wonderful comment.
    And I agree. However, lately I have been questioning something else. As a missionary coming on the field later in life, I have messes strewn throughout this walk called life. God has chosen to bring me on the field in Germany to share Him with the broken and wounded women here. And God is using all of those messes to share His glorious work.
    I work, however, with some of the most amazing women. Women that have been called by God and were listening back when I was seeking the approval of a man…any man. These women are broken in different ways. Ways that are not so obvious. And they know it.
    But, there are people that have lived a life wallowing in the trenches (i.e. me). Some of these Christian people only see these women’s ‘perfect lives’ and conclude that they are ‘faking’ it. It crushes them and me.
    These women cry when they hear my testimony. They ache when they think of the life that I have walked through. They even tell me that God has hand-picked me for a life such as this and that He will be glorified in it. They tell me to take courage and it helps.
    My question: Is there a place for clean lives in our Christian world? Or do we all have to be ‘the prostitute’ turned follower to be received and honored by our own? Lately, I have heard so much about the ‘getting real’ aspect of the Christian life. Well, these women are real. They just had hearts more tender and more obedient than mine was in my 20’s.
    I want that for my daughter. I want her to live a life more obedient, more ready to follow, more willing to be godly. Will people judge her because she hasn’t: had an abortion, gone through divorce, dealt with an abusive husband, children doing drugs…
    How will she be received by our Christian family – when she ‘looks’ really clean and having it all together? Because even though she looks it, she knows she isn’t perfect and doesn’t have it all together. And God knows, and God loves, and God receives, and God is honored.

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    questionable86

    All cleaned up
    Wonderfully put, I happened to stumble upon this page when researching on Bible.org. Great words Laura.

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