Into the Mess

March 30, 2023 | Rob Bloss

Just last week, Monty wrote these words in his blog on vulnerability:

“…isn’t vulnerability a great description of the human condition? Doesn’t everyone have chinks in their armor; 'soft spots' so to speak. No one that I know of is invincible. I’ve never met a person who is impervious to the difficulties of living in a broken, sin-wrecked world. Sure, some folks are more insulated than others. But sickness, accidents, natural disasters, violence, economic downturns – you get the picture – can touch anyone, anywhere. 

Beyond all that, every person who has ever lived has walked this planet toward a day when they would breath their last. Death comes to us all. So, ultimately we are ALL vulnerable.” 

Truth made painfully real by the events that took place at a school outside Nashville and off a dirt road in Mississippi. In both cases, we were stunned by the sudden and tragic loss of life that personally touched several colleagues and dear friends here at Fellowship.  

We’re all vulnerable. We are not in control. We are sad, mad, confused, broken-hearted, afraid. We weep. We grieve. 

But—and this is the kind of “but” that flips everything on its head, the kind that turns something evil into something good—BUT for those in Christ, while we still grieve, we do not grieve as those without hope. We have a hope that does not disappoint because we have a God who is sovereign over all things, who is faithful, in control and who cares.  

What would it be like to go through life and death, tragedy and trauma, without hope? Without God? Can you imagine losing a child and not having God to lean on, not feeling the security of his embrace or the hope of his promises? Can you imagine not having a community of faith, brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray with you and care for you in the face of an overwhelming challenge in your life?  

The sad truth is that many people have never experienced the presence, peace and power that only God can provide. Many, in their weakness, have never felt his strength, love, forgiveness, comfort, peace or hope. They have never experienced the power of the resurrection – power over the penalty of sin, over death itself.  

This is the good news of the Gospel for the vulnerable. His strength is perfected in our weakness; in the sinful, broken, messy state of our lives and our world. And most often, this Good News is only fully experienced and understood in the context of the bad news. It’s when the light shines in the darkness that truth is revealed.  

Vulnerability is a gateway to joy. It’s a journey that leads us to greater freedom, to needed change, to life itself. So why not embrace it and encourage it in others! 

I love that our church is a place where people can be vulnerable. Where it is ok to be weak and broken and struggling. A safe place to ask and wrestle with questions. To admit failure. To grieve loss. To process trauma. To be Jesus to the least, the last and the lost.  

I know that doesn’t come easily. I know it can be messy.  

Years ago, Mike Yaconelli wrote a book called Messy Spirituality:  God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People. In the book he said, "Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God's being present in the mess of our unfixedness….Messy spirituality is the delirious consequence of a life ruined [i.e. radically transformed] by a Jesus who will love us right into his arms." 

Tidy churches are not safe places for the likes of sinners like us. Tidy churches do hospitality the way Aunt Mabel did it. She had plastic covers on the lampshades and sofas in the “best” rooms. It qualified the welcome. 

We read in Proverbs 14:4, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” If I embrace the mission, I must embrace the mess. After all, Jesus did it in order to embrace me.   

I’m praying for a messy Easter. That God would fill this place with weak, broken, needy, vulnerable people. That we would reach out and invite people who are struggling, just like we do, to come and experience Jesus who steps into the mess, our mess, and does something miraculous!