Lost in Translation, Part 1

February 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

“The only virtue of my generation,” he said, “is that it ain’t ashamed to tell the truth about itself.”

Flannery O’Connor, Why Do the Heathen Rage?

As Christ-followers we bear such a beautiful message – that God loves the unlovely, hears the cries of the weak, and through Jesus, has entered into the realm of the broken.

It. Really. Is. That. Simple.

So why doesn’t it get through? Why do so many churches struggle in speaking into the worlds they inhabit? Why does there seem to be such vast irrelevance in the Christian message when in fact it could not be more germane?

I have to think that part of the answer lies in the fact that Christ-followers somehow muddy its simplicity with the notion that they have to appear to have it all together in order to be heard.

In a peculiar little comment in 1 Corinthians 15:10, the Apostle Paul says, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am…’ For us the beauty of the Gospel is found, not in our ability to overcome, but in God’s ability – and willingness – to forgive in spite of our constant weakness.

This is actually part of the beauty of the Church – It is a community of real humans, each of whom is a mess to varying degrees, including and starting with its pastors! But it is a redeemed community. So any notion that we can hide the reality of our brokenness is ludicrous – and to the observing culture, this only translates into inauthenticity.

If you follow Christ then you have one asset in your message – that Jesus loves and has forgiven you in spite of yourself. Your instinct may be to believe that you have to be perfect before you can have any voice in the world, when in fact we are simply called to enter into it, and by our very presence to make our humble corners of the planet a little more beautiful.

Now some would pounce on this and say, ‘You’re watering down the Gospel’ (in fact some have)! But consider Jesus for a moment. How many times did He enter a home or a village or a mountainside, preceded by the announcement that He was Perfect… or the Savior… or Holy? The answer? Never. He didn’t need to. That conversation always came to Him, not the other way around. He knew that people longed for something that He embodied, and that if He loved them well and demonstrated that He cared more about them than His own interests and reputation, the rest would follow.

At the heart of our Faith is a God who sympathizes with our weakness, not merely because He is God and understands all things (which He does), but because He made the conscious decision to personally experience weakness – human weakness – our weakness – in order to make us His. In some way the extent of our brokenness makes what God has done all the more beautiful. Why cheat others of this lovely reality?

Listen, God wants you to be who you actually are. Somehow He will use this to translate His good news into a language other broken people can understand.

It’s what He liked about you in the first place.

That’s a good thing. Spread the word…


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