By Nathan Mark
I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t in church. I remember being three years old and being in the toddler nursery. I remember my Sunday school teacher, “Teacher Lynn,” a sweet retired woman who taught my preschool Sunday school class. I had a really great family life. Loving Christian parents, a family that loved me, great friends, great school, great church. Pretty much cookie cutter in almost every way. I couldn’t ask for a better childhood. And yet, I am piece of work. I really am as broken and messed up as they come. I used to think, “I may not be perfect, because nobody really is, but I’ve got it mostly together.” I would look at other people who had different problems than me and think, “Wow, they need counseling.” I would never come out and say, “I am better than you,” but subconsciously that is exactly what I believed.
A few months ago I started meeting with a retired friend for mentoring, and God has really been using him in my life to show me just how broken and messed up I really am. Honestly, it’s shocking. How can I have been so blind for so long to the depths of my own depravity? And how can I have judged so many people for all their problems? I’ve got anger issues, daddy issues, pride, guilt, shame, and immaturity, just to name a few. There are times in my life when I behave a certain way and I just don’t understand why. I am just so broken.
As human beings our depravity is kind of like the Pacific Ocean. Every one of us is really messed up. This is why the Bible says, “Our righteousness’s are like filthy rags.” Anything good we bring to the table is truly laughable when compared to the ocean of our sin. Many of us will blame our childhood or our parents for our brokenness. The reality is our parents were broken, and their parents were broken, and right now I am passing on my brokenness to my children, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Everything is broken. Don’t get me wrong, God is in the middle of all this, slowly but steadily bringing healing. But it’s kind of like using a teaspoon to empty the Pacific Ocean. It’s ludicrous to think that this side of eternity we will ever come close to emptying the ocean of our depravity. But that has never been the point. I used to think that when I reached my 80s that I would be almost perfect. But the more I look around, the more I realize I have never found a human being who is almost perfect. This is a fantasy. Everyone, no matter the age, is still broken. Again, perfection is really not the point. It’s never been the point.
So what is the point then? The Scriptures say that, “While we were YET sinners, Christ died for us.” God did everything He did for you (including dying for you), not to make you a better person, but so that He could be with you. Granted, by being with Him, we can’t help but start to become more like He is. His love is so deep for you that He says, “I will love you in the midst of your ocean of sin. As you spend time with Me, I will heal you teaspoon by teaspoon, and some day, when this life is over, I will make you completely new.”
So when I condemn other people for their brokenness, I am basically saying, “I am better than you because God has removed 2,457 teaspoons out of my ocean of depravity and He has only taken 2,456 out of yours.” Ridiculous, right? God is calling us to a different way of thinking. He is calling us to be broken and messed up together. To be okay with being works in progress. Not to condemn each other, but to “spur each other on to love and good deeds.”
“And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”