12 October 2010

repair requires acknowledgement

Things break. This is an undeniable truth of this life, whether it is an inanimate physical object, a part of the human body, an psychological-emotional state, an organization consisting of people, or a spiritual reality. At some point in time things will break and need to be repaired.

A generation or two ago we still had a society which fixed things as the norm and replaced them as a final option. This has been the state of world civilization since its beginning, only giving way to a disposable culture in the past few years. At some point we began throwing away little, insignificant things like paper cups and towelettes. Now we have moved up to disposable cellphones and (practically) disposable computers. (What would our great-grandparents have thought of this?) When televisions and microwaves - those quite revolutionary magical household items - break, we don't even think of paying the cost to have them repaired because it is quicker, easier, and often less expensive to get a new one. Plus, we always want the newer and better model.

I wonder just how much this disposable culture has impacted our kingdom work. Already we have seen how people will migrate from one church to another simply because it is easier to walk away than it is to repair broken relationships. Perhaps we also dispose of the very ones who need the gospel message most simply because it takes a lot of effort to help someone find repair in their own lives. After all, isn't there a self-help book out there anyway?

Nobody can deny that things in our world break, and that there are times when we have to fix them. Sometimes its drastic, like removing a limb because there is a cancer. Sometimes its quite inconvenient, such as when we have to try to get through a stretch with our leg in a cast. Sometimes is relatively simple, other times its terribly difficult. We all know its most difficult to repair the relationship factor, because it requires humility and openness with the other person.

But what is common in all of our break-and-repair situations is the necessity for us to admit that something is broken. This is so overly-simplistic that it often trips us up. Think about it: When your car isn't running correctly the first step is to discover what is broken. In fact, the mechanic isn't even legal allowed to start a repair until you admit that your car is broken - this involves signing an agreement stating the problem, estimating the cost, and allowing him to commence.

I been told that I am pessimistic. I contend that I am optimistic, because I like my chances, but that I am also a realist. In other words, I have the ability to identify a situation as it is but with the eternal hope that God is doing great things. Realism can lead to pessimism, but it doesn't have to . . . and although I admit that I am often disappointed and concerned with things, I continue to believe that God's grace is sufficient.

But in our spiritual walk it is important to identify the problem - the break - as it really is, otherwise we cannot adequately achieve repair. For our spiritual status, this requires that we admit the condition of our sinfulness that we might discover the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. For our church communities, it means that we must be willing to say that things aren't going well when it is true so that we can find the way God desires for us. Either way, it begins with the admission of where we are, moving into the expectation of what God is going to do on our behalf.

Just as the Israelites were aware of their captivity in Egypt before the exodus given to them, we will also find that in this world repair comes after the acknowledgement of our current place. And since the story of the exodus is told year after year, complete with the bitter herbs of slavery, then we may suppose that telling the complete story of our lives only leads to God's greater glory.

No comments: