Sometimes I think the modern church (in America, anyway) wants the basic message of our faith to be something like this,
We’ve taken on a lot of the culture’s emphasis on being enough and being good enough, and made it our own.
I do think there’s value in much of it, because it’s an attempt to eliminate shame. I am all for eliminating shame, and attempting to use it to motivate people to change.
It’s largely a backlash against heavy-handed legalism, which needed, and still needs, some backlash.
I think the emphasis on being enough slightly misses the mark, though. It feels like we are protesting too much. Underneath all that talk are still lingering doubts and questions.
I hear someone tell me I’m enough and I say, “yeah,” then look to the right and look to the left to see if the coast is clear and whisper,
“Except most of the time I’m really not.”
It kind of feels like when I was pregnant, and unmarried, at 21 years old. I walked around like nothing was wrong, or odd, and was defiant (if only on the inside) when it was suggested this wasn’t exactly the way this was supposed to happen. I talked about it like it was no big deal.
It was an attempt to make that be true and to cover over my insecurities. To make it okay. But, hello, I was a clueless, immature girl about to be totally responsible for another human being.
My response was miles away from what it should have been, given the gravity of the situation.
When I was growing up in the church I remember stories about heroes. I heard all the great things they did, how big their faith was and how much they loved God.
This was presented as something to aspire to. I had no understanding, however, of how messed up they all were. They were each as much sinner as hero.
The Bible is, from cover to cover, filled with stories about messed up people. You’d be hard pressed to find someone without rather large and heinous sin – both of commission and of omission.
There was murder, adultery, apathy, not standing up for the oppressed, lust, cheating, undisciplined kids, idolatry, wimpines and, fear, to name a few. And these were the people who loved God and were chosen as leaders.
I think we’ve missed the point. Or maybe we just don’t like the point: we’re all messed up. We often aren’t enough. We need rescuing.
But we’re loved.
That’s closer the point. The Bible isn’t just about people. It’s about God, who loves messed up people. Who uses messed up people. Who came here for us, messed up people, who just can’t be enough on our own.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
We must understand that we are a people who have been saved, are being saved and will be saved. We are in this thing for the long haul.
We aren’t instantly changed and we shouldn’t expect to be, as far as our behavior and thinking. Instant change does happen in people sometimes, but it’s pretty rare. Mostly, it’s a process.
We work out our salvation, knowing we won’t always hit the mark. We also do this knowing that who we are today isn’t who we’ll be in ten years.
If I continue with Jesus, I’ll grow and mature. That’s just how it works.
That takes a lot of pressure off. I wish we could all be honest and bring our true selves to the table. That’s where healing is. I don’t want my friends to be perfect. I want them to be honest and let me be honest.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
That’s when compassion thrives and healing comes.
For me, trying to believe I’m enough feels a lot like my 21 year old self trying to make everything okay. Or make everybody else think it is. I tried it.
The truth is that I’ve never felt more loved and accepted by God, or felt Jesus so near, as when I stopped trying to defend myself and just said, you know what? I have failed. I do fail, often. I wish I could be more and do more, but for now, this is who I am. I need forgiveness and I need help. And I’m deeply loved anyway.
That’s the message: I’m loved, regardless. And He’ll be enough when I’m not. He’ll forgive when I’m not. He’ll show me a way when I’m not.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
If you came to me with your failures I’d say something like, “So, you’re a mess. Me, too. Don’t give up on me and I won’t give up on you. Keep coming to the table, partake of Christ and continue being made new. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. You’re loved right now, today. Let me pray for you.”
For me it’s not about being enough. It’s about being Beloved.