When I first became a pastor at the age of 25, I had the strange idea that perhaps 10%, or maybe 20%, of people had really profound personal problems, but that the majority really have it together.
How naïve was I?
I have since learnt that everyone is broken in some way, and the only real difference between us all is how good we are at covering it up!
To be human is to be born fractured. When Paul wrote to the church in Rome about the fracture that he experienced between his good intentions and what he actually did, he was in fact describing something common to us all:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15,18-19)
Going right back to the beginning of the Bible story, we find that internal brokenness was the very first consequence of Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God. Whereas they had previously been naked and quite happy about it(!), once they had sinned, they felt shame. That is, they were no longer comfortable in their own skin, and so we see that a fracture had appeared between their inner being and their own bodies.
Now, today, there seems to be no end to the internal fractures that we can experience. Some are more obvious and more distressing, like the person experiencing gender dysphoria, for whom their sense of their own gender is at odds with the biological sex of their body.
Others are subtler or more hidden, as for a married couple of deeply desire children but whose bodies do not allow it, or the person who feels profoundly unhappy with their job but has no idea what else they might be called to do.
At Easter, we celebrate all that Jesus achieved for us through his death and resurrection. One aspect of this is that he was broken so that we may be made whole.
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
Jesus, the eternal Son of God, had always experienced unity in his being. He was single-minded, whole-hearted, filled with zeal, and always doing the good that he intended to do. But, on the cross, his body was broken and his connection with the Father was fractured. He gave us the image of broken bread to remind us that he went through all this for us, that our fractured humanity might be made whole, and so we might have the power to fulfil the Greatest Commandment:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)
This reminds me of a story I posted here several years ago, about a woman whose inner life was mended together after an encounter with God; and also of Walter Wangerin’s brilliant parable, The Ragman, read by him here (up to 8:30, before some rather surprising music takes over!).