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Grace Notes - Grace for the Broken

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By Nancy Kennedy

 

When I was about 2 years old, I bopped my baby brother with a wooden hammer and once put a wad of gum in my sister’s hair.
I was part of a group of kids who called a girl in our neighborhood “fungus face,” and in eighth grade I spread vicious rumors about a girl who I thought stole my boyfriend.

Once I shoplifted a bottle of Compound W wart remover and a Yardley Lip Slicker lipstick from Thrifty Drug Store. 

I’m self-centered and self-protective. I’m not very generous or hospitable. I’m horribly judgmental, especially about people whom I consider judgmental.

I care too much about what people think and not enough about what God thinks. 

I’m broken.

Eugene O’Neill once wrote, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is the glue.”

We are all broken. You, me, even Mother Teresa.

The whole world is broken -- just turn on the evening news: mass shootings, people driving vehicles into crowds of people, adults sexually assaulting little children.

Road rage. Rampant drug addiction. Domestic violence. Broken families. Broken lives.

A 24-year-old woman in Washington dreamed of being a serial killer and planned to start by killing a man she met online and eating his heart.

How broken is that?

When it comes to politics, we no longer agree to disagree, but consider those of differing opinions our enemy.

We revel in public humiliation and use social media to condemn others to the point of driving them out of the community.

Our world is broken and upside down. In the Wall Street Journal, Dennis Prager wrote, “In our culture, judging evil is widely considered worse than doing evil.”

We are so very broken and in desperate need of glue -- in desperate need of grace.

Broken people sometimes turn to religion in an attempt to fix themselves and hope 

that by their fervor and zeal and careful compliance to religion’s rules and regulations they can somehow please God.

But religion isn’t the answer. It can’t undo what we’ve done. It can’t fix what we humans have broken.

So, we don’t need religion, but we do need grace.

We need the gospel of grace, which says we can’t fix ourselves no matter how hard we try, but that Jesus can.

Christians believe that Jesus is the only one who can.

“For God so loved the world,” begins the most famous gospel verse. He so loved, that he gave.

He gave his only, cherished, sinless Son so that any broken person who trusts, relies on and clings to this Son would not ever be ultimately lost and can be made whole, both now and forever.

The Message Bible paraphrase says, “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again” (John 3:16-17).

God sent his Son to fix the world, to fix broken people, through the cross. It was there that Jesus willingly heaped upon himself all that needs to be fixed -- our sins and all our evil -- and where God heaped on him the punishment we deserved, whether we we think we deserve it or not.

The gospel of grace says not only did Jesus take our death sentence and die in our place, but he also offers his record of perfect righteousness to anyone who, by faith, receives it.

We can actually trade our brokenness for his wholeness, our imperfection for his perfection.

My pastor recently said that faith is essentially a transfer of trust, from trusting in our own goodness, which obviously isn’t all that good, to trusting in Jesus.

God has fixed the world, even though we don’t yet see it, not completely anyway. 

And even as the world seems to be getting worse, seemingly spiraling out of control, God in his mercy has given us glimpses of what is to come.

He fixes some things now, but not all things.

He gives glimpses of hope in our hopelessness and moments of joy in our sorrow and pain.

Near the end of the Bible, the apostle John wrote these words to encourage those who trust in Jesus: “He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain...And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making all things new!’”

That’s good new for this broken world -- that’s grace.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927  or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.