The importance of staying broken

th-6There’s a way to look at the world and especially the people in it that sets you apart. Sadly, it becomes the way many Christians, who, because they are trying to separate themselves from their own messes, end up staying away from everyone else’s messes as well.

We all, when we come to Christ, want to be better people. That’s understandable. And if you want to be a better person, it helps if you hang around other people who want to be better, too, and avoid those who are trapped in the sins and addictions that once trapped you. This makes tons of sense, and to a certain degree — and maybe for a certain period of time — it may be what needs to happen. But it’s where this thinking goes from here that often leads on a very slippery slope to separation, judgment, and bigotry — all the errors of the Pharisees.

What happens is that we lose the present tense reality of our own sin. In our attempt to be better, we start to assume we are better, as we pat each other on the back for encouragement. Soon we lose our present and continual need for a savior, and start to think everyone else needs Jesus — everyone except us.

The key to staying compassionate, and being a beacon of hope in the world, is staying broken. It’s having a realistic understanding of one’s own need — that we carry our own brokenness with us so that the love and mercy we give out is always the love and mercy we need.

Last night Marti and I saw Love and Mercy the movie about the life of Brian Wilson that reminded me again about the song he wrote by the same title.

In this song we see a broken heart that stays broken for the rest of the world. We encounter a person with compassion who sees other people’s messes as no different from his own. And knowing a little bit about him, and the pain and abuse in his life, that says a lot. That Brian Wilson is a gentle and compassionate man today, is a tribute to the love and mercy in his own life; and in this beautiful yet simple song, we find his reciprocating desire to see everyone else get the same love and mercy he got. It’s as genuine and childlike as you can get. That is, indeed, a true picture of grace turned outward.

Following is what Brian said about writing this song, followed by the lyrics and a link to a recent live performance.

I was in my piano room, playing “What the World Needs Now,” and I just went into my own song…worked very hard to get out what was in my heart on that one…it’s a personal message from me to people.…We wanted people to be covered with love, because there’s no guarantee of somebody waking up in the morning with any love. It goes away, like a bad dream. It disappears. Mercy would be a deeper word than love. I would think love is a gentle thing and mercy would be more desperate, ultimately a more desperately needed, thing in life. Mercy–a little break here and there for somebody who’s having trouble.…”Love and Mercy” is probably the most spiritual song I’ve ever written.

Love and Mercy
by Brian Wilson

I was sittin’ in a crummy movie
With my hands on my chin
All the violence that occurs
Seems like we never win

Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight
So love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was lying in my room
And the news came on TV
A lotta people out there hurtin’
And it really scares me

Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight
Love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

I was standing in a bar
And watching all the people there
Oh, the loneliness in this world
Well it’s just not fair

Hey, love and mercy, that’s what we need tonight
So love and mercy to you and your friends tonight
Love and mercy, that’s what you need tonight
Love and mercy tonight
Love and mercy tonight

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4 Responses to The importance of staying broken

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    That’s a very nice Brain Wilson song! When i first started reading today’s Catch your good book The 12 steps for a recovering pharisee (like me) came to mind and I’d highly recommend it to all of the Catch family! 🙂

  2. kevinm1957 says:

    The word that comes to mind is balance. Very hard thing to achieve and maintain. Yes, I need to spend time around others that are recovering (from sin, alcholism, drugs, sex, gambling, etc…. fill in the blank); but I need to make sure we as a group spend time reaching out to those that are still broken completely and haven’t found their way home, as well as talking about our brokenness and remembering where we came from. Especially since we are only a step away from being broken again at any time, after all it is a one day at a time thing no matter what we are recovering from. We have to do the same things we did each day in the beginning, each day now, or we will fall yet again to the same things.

  3. Sandie says:

    To stay broken while letting Jesus pick up all the broken pieces of your life to make you whole again. Seems like a paradox…truly only the work of The Holy Spirit enables this to happen. Years back, while I was agonizing emotionally and spiritually during a school year that saw the deaths of several teens I worked with, my pastor at the time counseled that “if I had a closer walk with Jesus I wouldn’t feel things so deeply.” A few years after that, another pastor reprimanded me for “seeing too much” and “going past the surface.” At those times my naturally rebellious nature held me in good stead…even though I couldn’t articulate why at the time, I instinctively knew they were deeply wrong. I still see the faces of those lost – I’ll bear the wounds of knowing them until I die…and I thank God for it.

  4. Jay says:

    John, did you like the movie?

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