It’s popular today to speak about how messed up we are and how broken we are as believers. Today’s “I’m just a broken, messed-up Christian” is yesterday’s “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.“ Both statements contain truth. It is true that those who follow Christ are all sinners who are saved by grace. Grace is the only way sinners are saved. Likewise, though we may be new creations in Jesus, we still bear the marring effects of sin in our flesh. Declaring that we’re “broken Christians” can come off as a kind of pious self-pity if we aren‘t careful. We cannot let our brokenness define who and what we are. We cannot let the effacing effects of sin outshine the good work God has started in us.
I believe it is a good thing that we feel more comfortable in the present throwing off the guise of Pharisaic perfection and admitting that much of the time, we suck. For far too long the church has set standards of righteous behavior that most cannot attain, and demanded that we keep silent when we fail. It is no small wonder that people who don’t know Jesus see us struggling with sanctification, but we deny to them and us that we have not yet arrived, and truly have a long ways to go. I appreciate candor and openness in the spirit of 1Timothy 1:15 and James 5:16a.
We may be broken, but we must be careful not to let our brokenness define our identity. Paul wrote, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Read the preceding verses for the full effect. Paul said that our identity is not in our former selves, but in Christ. In Christ, we are whole, complete, and healed. Though we may be people who break, bend, and bow, we are not broken. We may carry the scars, and continue struggle with the monsters of our former lives, but we are now beautiful creatures because of Jesus.
It is good that we remember our weakness, that in our flesh we cannot please God (Romans 8:8). It is good to never forget that we are weak and frail, susceptible to a myriad of sins, but in Christ we find our strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).
If we let our brokenness and “messed up-ness” and brokenness define who we are, we detract from the amazing work God has done for us and in us through the gospel of Jesus Christ. He calls it a “good work” (Philippians 1:6), and his work in us is well-pleasing to him (Hebrews 13:21).
We were once broken, and we still break, but we have been restored to newness (2 Corinthians 5:17). Exalt in what you now are, not what you once were. Don’t let brokenness define you.