The church is represented in my life. I’m not all that Jesus wants me to be. I’m not all that he’s provided for me. I’m not walking in all that I know. I’m trying, but I’m not doing all that well some days. Are you? That leaves me in a broken state — an awareness of, “O God, O God, except for your mercy and except for your grace.” I think it’s designed to be that way. I think we are supposed to live in the constant reality that we are not measuring up. Even in his righteousness, even under his mercy, even as a recipient of his grace, I can’t walk like Jesus does. I touch on it every now and then. I visit it. That gives me hope and encouragement for more. But the reality is that we have to constantly live in brokenness. The way we do that, is by not developing some sort of external religious thing that hides us and puts us in a denial process by which we pretend to be more than we are. Rather, we just learn to live constantly with the awareness that we just don’t measure up.
But that’s good news, folks. If you don’t measure up — if you can’t measure up — then you’re constantly asking for Jesus to make up the difference. That’s good news! It’s pretty hard to act overly religious when you know you don’t measure up, and that he’s paying the difference. I’m not sure that we ever get incredibly better or stronger or mightier, becoming these great men and women of God. I think we always live with the awareness that we are serving the great God of men and women. Jesus came down to earth. I didn’t go up to him. He came to the world. The world didn’t come to him. I got saved by a merciful Savior. Didn’t you? And he’s still merciful toward me. Every day of my life I live in a constant awareness of that. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON COMPASSION.
To John Wimber, a church was not a true church if that group of people wasn’t acting “otherly,” giving of themselves to the poor, the needy, the outcast, and the lost. Thus, when Wimber gave his Genetic Code talk to Vineyard pastors in 1991, where he listed ten areas of ministry that he believed to be essentials for any church who hoped to be a “doin’ the stuff” kind of church; number five on that list was: “a ministry to the poor, widows, orphans, and those who are broken.”
As you can read from the quote above, Wimber understood that brokenness was part and parcel with all life lived here on planet earth. And it was this theology of brokenness that formed so much of who he was and the way he consciously acted toward himself and toward others. Brokenness, you see, is the key to understanding the plight of our human existence.
In the beginning, when Adam and Eve first decided that they knew better than God and that they didn’t need the Creator’s help in making major decisions in their lives, it was their inability to see themselves as broken that pushed them to choose the way they did. You see, Satan knows that he has no chance to lure us into his snares as long as we remain broken and dependent upon God for our strength. So when the serpent was tempting Adam and Eve, he was simply puffing up the human spirit, making them believe that they knew as much about life as God did.
As I see it, there’s nothing worse than human beings who refuse to embrace their brokenness. Pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness are, quite honestly, at the very center of our human existence outside God. And it’s our refusal to admit to that brokenness that so often keeps people from truly experiencing the tender-hearted mercies of God.
Let’s face it folks, well-meaning Christians who are full of themselves, victorious, and free, can end up being some of the most repulsive people in the world to be around! Why? It is because our failure to see ourselves as broken people, as Wimber states, can remove our one hundred percent reliance upon God as being our Savior. And when that happens, all ministries we attempt to do for Jesus becomes a mixture of our good intentions and our self-centered pride trying to blend together with the total sufficiency and complete sovereignty of God. And just like oil being stirred into water, those two elements: human pride combined with God’s will; just never blend into one!
So the key to successful ministries of compassion, then, is our ability to, first and foremost, see ourselves as broken people serving other broken people. Equals to those we are hoping to help. I love the way author Henri Nouwen defined it. In this world, as we go in God’s compassion to others, we’re simply, “wounded healers.” We are simply broken people with a great Savior going to other broken people in need of that same great Savior.
So what do you say that we stop the ministries of compassion that are going out of our churches in the name of our victorious human abilities? How about if we check our pride and arrogance at the door the next time we’re prepping to go out to help the less fortunate and go only in the name and power of Jesus, alone? Somehow I think that approach, ministering compassion out of his strength and out of our own brokenness, will play much better in a world where everybody seems to enjoy helping others, especially when they can get all the credit and publicity for doing such good things.
Father, in all truthfulness, I’m a broken man always in need of a great Savior. Help me as I attempt to go to others in your compassion. May I never go to assist others while I’m full of myself and may your Holy Spirit grant me the joy of giving grace to others in need while I, myself, always remain a recipient of your grace as well. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- Am I fully aware of my continual brokenness in the sight of God?
- How can I better embrace that brokenness, knowing that it’s in my weakness that I am strong?
- How might my outreach toward others be strengthened as I choose to go in my brokenness, believing that it’s his strength that actually makes the true difference in all of our lives?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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