In my devotional reading this morning I found a quote from Henri Nouwen, from his book, Life of the Beloved:
“We are chosen, blessed, and broken so as to be given. . . . this means it is only as people who are given that we can fully understand our being chosen, blessed, and broken. In the giving it becomes clear that we are chosen, blessed, and broken not simply for our own sakes, but so that all we live finds its final significance in being lived for others.”
We hear a lot of conflicting Christian rhetoric these days. One one hand, we hear Christians screaming about power, status, recognition, and rights. These folks seem to think that there is an evil horde chomping at the bit to come knock down our doors and cart us off to prison for worshipping Christ. They demand power, lest their way of life and worship disappear.
On the other hand, there are Christians who love to quote their own version of Philippians 4:13. They usually say something like “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” I think (granted, this is only my opinion) what they mean is, “Look at how strong I am!” They emphasize the “I can do all things,” and downplay the “through Christ” part. Are they proudly, visibly, suffering through hardship? Or, are they temporarily withstanding life on earth so they can enjoy heaven one day?
If I wasn’t already a Christian, I’d be too confused to become one these days!
Nouwen reminds us that it is only in giving that we find our blessing. Only when we live for others do we discover what it means to be “chosen, blessed, and broken.”
The “chosen and blessed” part sounds pretty good. Sounds like both sides of the rhetorical divide could go along with it. “We’re chosen and blessed so all you unchosen and unblessed people can go to hell!” versus “We’re chosen and blessed so it doesn’t matter what we suffer here because we’re all going to heaven!”
The “broken” part? That bothers me. That sounds unpleasant, difficult, too hard. But, to receive the “Philippians 4;13-through-Christ” kind of power to “do all things”, we’ve got to be broken. We’ve got to get ourselves out of the way so Christ can come in. We’re all so proud these days that Jesus would have to break us in order to come in!
I don’t see many broken and giving Christians these days.