Five Ways to Experience Restoration, Healing and Hope in a Broken World
Week 3 in a Lenten Series for Stewards and Steward Leaders
This is our third week looking at how we, as stewards, live and thrive in the unprecedented times in which we live. My premise is that we are experiencing a level of cultural disintegration and moral chaos the likes of which we have never seen, and that the collateral damage of our times is seen in at least three ways; brokenness, woundedness and despair.
In response, we are using this season of Lent to reflect on five habits we fall into and our need to repent of each. From this repentance we pray we can find restoration from our brokenness, healing from our woundedness, and hope in place of despair.
In the past two weeks we considered what it means to repent of our tendency to be keepers of our own kingdoms instead of God’s kingdom, and of our desire to be self-reliant instead of God-reliant. In this third week, I want to look at the damage done by a misplaced identity. The search for meaning and purpose in life leads us to the core question of our identity; who are we and why are we even here? As our culture becomes more godless, the only answers that are left send us back to ourselves. We become owners, protectors and promoters of the influences and inputs that shape our identity.
The latest catch phrase for this generation is ‘you do you’. In other words, whatever identity you’ve formed for yourself, do it. Don’t question it, don’t let others influence it and don’t deny others their right of ‘doing them’. What happens, however, when another person’s actions of ‘doing them’ conflict with you doing you? Unless we live in bubbles, living for ourselves according to our own definition of what is right for us will inevitably come into conflict with others following different paths. The result? Woundedness, offense, outrage, accusation and self-righteous indignation. Without a grander basis for our identity, everyone who challenges our efforts to ‘do me’ are our enemy. They are intolerant bigots, haters, oppressors, etc. The lists are long.
No wonder our society has become a battlefield of brittle egos so easily offended and quickly broken. We have lost the anchor for our souls and the true source of our purpose and identity. By rejecting God’s plan, we are left with our own. And we are seeing the collateral damage of a society thrown back upon itself with no basis for value or truth beyond base self-promotion.
You would think, and hope, that in the church the story would be different, but it is hard not to get swept up in the ‘offended and outraged’ game being played out all around us. Especially when so much of it is now aimed at us. But we must not! Paul reminds us, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) The enemy is after your identity, your self-understanding. He will fail if we meet him with diligent prayer and immersion in the Word of God.
This Lenten season let all of us who are Jesus followers truly follow Him and His example of an identity secured in God and a kingdom focus that shaped His self-understanding. Everyday let us look in the mirror and remind ourselves, “I am a child of God.” That is our identity, our calling and our sole purpose in life. As a result, followers of Jesus are not ‘people pleasers’, we are not here to ‘do us’, and we do not adjust our message so as not to offend. Scripture reminds us that the Gospel is offensive. At its core, it proclaims ‘you do you’ as the very definition of sin. That’s not a popular message, but in it lies the promise of restoration from brokenness, healing from our all-too-easily wounded egos, and hope for our culture.
Lent is a time of reflection, repentance, healing and hope. This Lent, let us reflect on the ways we have compromised our identity to our culture, repent of our misplaced self-image, be healed of the woundedness we have allowed to grieve our spirit, and find renewed hope in Christ alone. Then, as Lenten and Easter people, let us proclaim this healing and hope to our sin-sick culture by what we say and how we live. May they see in us the restoration and hope that comes when our confidence is found only in the applause of nail-scarred hands.