Grace & the Messy Life

"Someone asked me how things were going recently. It's not really a 'yes' or 'no' ('good' or 'bad') question. Life in our congregation is messy. People have a wide variety of problems and many of those problems are out on the table. Are things going well when one of your members has been hauled out of a pub in a drunken state? When people admit problems in their marriage? When people are struggling with depression? Actually I think the answer can be, 'Yes, things are going well.' A key verse for me in recent years has been the first beatitude, which I paraphrase as: 'Blessed are the broken people for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' God's blessing is found among the broken people. I don't rejoice in people's problems, but I do rejoice to be part of a community of broken people. I sometimes describe our church as a group of messy people led by messy people. It's proved a context in which I've been able to address my own struggles.

What's the alternative? One alternative is to be a church in which there's a lot of pretending - where people have problems, but the culture doesn't allow them to be open. Churches like this are very neat and respectable. But I know I'd rather be in a messy church! Mess reflects, I think, a culture of grace. We pretend because either we don't trust God's grace for ourselves or we don't trust others to show us grace."

Tim Chester, You Can Change, 162.