Sunday, September 11, 2011

Like You. And Me.

For the broken.
For the frail. 
For those who've messed it all up.
For the frustrated.
And for the one who struggles.

With anything.

For anyone who has watched the pieces of a relationship slip through their fingers.
And for anyone who is to blame for it.
Or for those who are not to blame for it.

For anyone who has ever whispered through tears, "I'm so sorry."
And for the ones who are too scared to, but who know they need to.

For the ones who are waiting.
Maybe for a miracle.

For the ones who wanted to serve the church, and to whom the church said, "No."

For anyone who at times has trouble making eye contact with the person in the mirror.
Because of disgust over what they do. Or don't do.

(And again, for anyone who is frail.)

For anyone who needs to be rescued. From others... from themselves.
And for anyone who knows that they can't save themselves.

For the ones who only have peace when they have understanding or control.
And for those who feel as if they have neither.

For anyone who has spent years trying to believe in themselves.
And for those who feel as if it isn't any closer.

For people who walk around with a tumor of regret living in the back of their mind.
And on the tip of their tongue.

For those who have thought too much of themselves and found out the hard way.
The really hard way.

For anyone who is ashamed of all the broken hearts they've left behind. 
For those who hate themselves for it.

For anyone whose best just did not measure up.
And who believed the naysayers were right.

For anyone who has desperately waited for a "Yes!"
Only to find that the answer was "No."
Again and again.

For those whose lives are built on proving wrong the people who never mattered.
Or for those who believed all of their lies.

For those who believe in their own failures before they even try.

For those who have a hard time accepting grace.

For anyone.

For the broken.

The Christ, the Son of the Living God, is for you.
And His church is built upon people like you. And me.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asks the disciples who people are saying that He is, and they give Him a variety of answers... because people are calling Him a variety of things. So Jesus asks further, "But what about you? Who do you say that I am?"

Simon says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

Jesus' response makes a powerful point: "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, because this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in Heaven."

Simon (who we know as Peter) didn't come up with it, because he was made of flesh and blood. No one else walking around came up with it, because they were made up of flesh and blood. It came from God. This was about what God was doing. God is breaking through the world with something, and what a human doesn't know isn't going to slow this thing down.

Jesus goes further.

He says, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church..."

"Peter" means "rock" by the way.

Fast forward a number of chapters in the Bible, and Peter is seeing Jesus being captured, taken, tortured, beaten and accused. And Peter denies being with or knowing Jesus: "Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t knowthe man!"

And the rooster crows.

Betrayal. Desertion. Especially when Peter had only recently declared his unending devotion to Jesus. You probably know the story.

I wonder what, in that very moment, Peter thought about himself. Do you know what I mean? I think of the way that we react to ourselves when we fail in a big, big way. We are rattled. We are broken. We call ourselves names in our head or even out loud.

Imagine your own failure. The big one. The one you don't want anyone to know about. Or maybe the one that everyone knows about. What have you said to yourself about yourself? What names have you called yourself in the shadow of your own shame?

Did Peter call himself names?

LiarBetrayerPathetic excuse for a friend. Whatever. I'm not calling him these things, I am just sure that the judge and jury of Peter's own mind had him permanently condemned.

The Messiah's life hangs in the balance and he is deserted by me, one of his closest companions. He had only loved God, loved and healed people, and always moved towards redemption. How could I? What have I done? 
He saw through me, and told me I would do this.

(For the broken.)

Oh, God. He was right.

(For the frail.)

And He wanted to build His church on me?

(For those who have messed it all up.)

"On this rock I will build my church."

Do you remember what happened after Jesus' resurrection? I don't know about you, but after the moments of sheer joy in seeing Him alive again after all that had happened, I would have been devastated and in tears, ashamed and broken in knowing that He knew what I had done. And not done. I don't know how I would be able to look at Him.
But Jesus doesn't use this opportunity as a teaching point. Or a place of rebuke.

He doesn't say, "Peter, if you'd only had more faith, been more courageous, or read Scripture or prayed more..."
He doesn't say, "Of all the people, I thought you would have been different."
He doesn't ask, "Why, Peter?"


In John 21, Jesus asks Peter a simple question: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

In response to Peter's "Yes", Jesus gives Peter what I believe to be a fundamental directive of that church He was talking about.

"Feed my lambs."

The dust has barely settled on Peter's failure, the echoes of his shame probably still ringing in his own heart and mind... and against the backdrop of Peter's frailty, Jesus gives Peter direction on what His church is to be about.

Do you see the point here?

Peter was now in the greatest position to be a builder of God's church... by recognizing that it wasn't the power of His own hands doing it, but the strength that comes from knowing that Jesus is our only hope.

There is power in knowing that it isn't about you.
That it isn't about me.
That it isn't about pedigree.
That it isn't about what we can muster. Or the image that we portray.

What good would a church be to the broken if it was built on the backs of the accomplished, the polished, the ones who work hard to appear they have it all together, and who act as if they have all the answers?

What if all the power that was ever needed, what if all the food the lambs need is to know that all our hope rests in Him?

The Christ, the Son of the Living God, is for you. No matter what you have done; no matter who you have been.
And His church is built upon people like you.
And me.