2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Wk 2 – Series – Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.
“It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”
Yardwork Yardwork can be a lot of work. But you know it’s even more work? Let letting your yard become completely overgrown. What I think that’s really a lot of people’s interior lives. Where they have absolutely no idea what’s going on in there.
You being emotionally healthy isn’t just a gift to yourself, it’s a gift to the people around you.
(Book:) “Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
Our spiritual health with Jesus is directly linked to our emotional health with each other. Last week, I encouraged you to look beneath the surface, to take some time in seeing what’s going on inside you, and thinking about the things you do, but more importantly, WHY you do the things you do.
Well this week, we’re changing gears a little and instead of talking about this internal thing of looking inward, we’re talking about a this outward thing, which is vulnerability.
Vulnerability : the state of being exposed to the possibility of being harmed.
So you might be thinking: “Whoa! Definately don’t want that!!!”
Without vulnerability, there’s no meaningful relationship.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. To love is to be vulnerable.” (C.S. Lewis)
And I think there’s a lot of people who go through life feeling very alone. Every though they have friends, and family, and co-workers that all love them, they go through life with this sense of not being understood and not being deeply connected with other people.
Reason is that they’re afraid of looking broken, or weak, or insecure, or angry, or afraid, or ashamed.
And since they don’t want people to see the more ‘unsightly’ parts of them, they keep themselves hidden. And they don’t realize that their tendency to hide their true self is the exact thing that stops them from meaningfully connecting with other people.
- When I was a kid I didn’t realize that people can be married and still lonely.
- You can live your life in community and still feel like you’re not truly known.
And I would say that most people “know” that they’re supposed to be open and honest with people, if they aren’t then they aren’t going to have meaningful relationships, etc. But the problem is that we know it, but we don’t do it. And most of the time when we know it but we don’t do it, it’s b/c we DON’T know it.
What – mean – live in vulnerability? – Honest?
Or do you feel like you need to always have it together? Always strong, always confident, never weak?
Like to talk to you about a guy who knew a thing or two about looking weak.
Paul is this amazing monster of the faith.
But what’s surprising, is that when you see Paul in 1st corinthians, and especially 2nd corinthians, at an incredibly vulnerable place.
But you can also see, that in my opinion, he’s a little bit insecure.
In Corinth – where he’s planted this small church
“So called Super Apostles” – word on the street – Do better miracles, better speakers, EVEN better looking than Paul.
People would come hear Paul, they’ve read what he’s written. In person – not all that impressive.
Nobody knows for sure – people who say Paul was short, small, bald, squeaky voice. You’d never leave his meeting saying he’s the greatest speaker I’ve ever heard.
Promoting his accomplishments. – Funny. There’s a time in the letter where he’s in a way promoting his accomplishments. Here’s why I’m better than these new guys. But he’s really funny with it. Tongue in cheek.
- They’re a hebrews? So am I.
- They’re a jew? So am I.
- Are they ministers of Jesus Christ? So am I.
- “I’ve gotten beat up more than anyone.”
- “I’ve got more stripes than anybody.”
Climax – The emperor was after me one time, and so my friends lower me out the window and I escaped.
“I bravely ran away.”
He’s making a contrast – He’s bragging about his brokenness.
Super apostles : never weak, never broken.
Picture a guy that at this point in his life has written a great deal of the NT testament – he’s saying that he’s perplexed, broken, feel abandoned.
Isn’t it amazing: Paul goes and writes the book of Romans and everyone is amazed! But sometimes Paul goes home and he’s perplexed and frustrated and weak and insecure.
Paul goes and seeing people by the thousands coming to Christ b/c of his ministry and then goes home and he has his own issues that he has no idea how to fix.
Beautiful idea, but also a little scary, because there’s a part of me that wants to see Paul nearing the end of his ministry as bold, confident, zero insecurity,
Longer – lives : More humble. Crazy – If you ever read Paul’s letters in chronological order – the longer he lives, the more humble he gets. It seems like the further he goes in following Jesus, he becomes more and more aware that it’s not about him, and how awesome he is. He becomes more aware of his frailty, and brokenness.
I don’t like that b/c I want to become someone that has so little brokenness, that when people look at me, they say ‘Holy Moly! Look at that shining star’.
That was pretty much my understanding of this whole thing when I get out of bible college. All the bad, brokenness, pain, shame – that’s all the ‘BC’ stuff, and once you’ve been on the journey, nothing but blue skies.
Maybe let’s call that place ‘There’.
No fear, no pain, your kids are perfect, your marriage is perfect, everything loves and respects you, you have all the money you could ever need.
On this side of the heaven, that is never going to happen.
In a lot of ways, I think the opposite is true. As you follow God and let him expose those deep dark parts of you, you’ll become ever more aware of our own brokenness.
And what’s crazy, is that as we become more aware of that, the more powerfully God is able to use us.
Sooner or later, we’re all confronted with our own inadequacy.
All our running and racing and striving. – We’re still angry, ashamed, and afraid.
The truth – Nobody’s all good and nobody’s all bad. Nobody’s happy all the time, never insecure, never afraid, never ashamed, those are fake people.
TV – changed I was reading an article the other day that talked about how TV has changed over the last couple decades. Where before, the bad guys were all the way bad, and the good guys were all the way good. – Think SUPERMAN. Think John Wayne. But recently as TV has gotten more realistic, almost all characters are a combination of good and bad. Even the heroes.
- Walter White
- Dexter Morgan
- Don Draper
- Francis Underwood
- Tyrion Lannister
And you gotta admit, that’s closer to the truth. So I think we should all be able to just straight-up admit that there’s things on the inside of us that aren’t always pretty, and neat, and orderly.
There’s chaos in the world and there’s chaos in the human heart. There just is.
When I was a young Christian I used to think that the ‘human’ side of me was all bad. Christians would use the word ‘Flesh’. It’s just the icky human part of you. Gross!!! But then there’s the ‘spirit’ side of you that’s perfect and never weak, and never afraid, and never insecure, and that’s the rest you. And listen, that could be in a theological sense, I guess.
But I’ve learned that Christians that don’t know themselves are sad people.
Embrace the fact that God created you as a beautiful and complex and sensitive, and strange human being.
And no matter how much we want to fight it, there’s anger, and shame and fear in all of us.
And it’s important for you to be able to admit that. And to come to terms with that. B/C if you DON’T come to terms with your own brokenness, you tend to deal with it in really unhealthy ways.
3 Unhealthy ways – deal w/ Brokenness.
1. Flee We avoid the unsightly parts of our life by distracting ourselves.
Masking / Numbing pain.
Albuquerque is great at this.
- “Life is painful, drink more whiskey.”
- Eat more.
- More successful
But just running from your own brokenness.
Instead of facing our brokenness, we distract of numb ourselves with an endless supply of things, places, or people.
w/ their phones. We talked about it last week, but I think a lot of people do this with their phones. They just check their phones every 15 seconds b/c it distracts them from the fact that maybe they’re really lonely. Or scared. Or mad. Or insecure.
Me – struggling internally — busywork. I can think of times in my own life where I’m really struggling internally with something, I just get really busy. I fill my life with busywork and friends, and video games. But ultimately it’s just running.
Loses – LOVE – cleaning house. You can see this when someone loses a loved one and they just start obsessively cleaning the house, because they don’t want to sit with their pain.
2. Fight We avoid the brokenness in our life by fighting.
Fighting against people, or situations, or cultures.
We become bitter and angry because life hasn’t been fair.
We pick a specific gender or race or issue to get all worked up over, taking all our anger and hurt out there.
The belief: The world would be better if people were more like me.
- This is the indignant Facebook poster, writing about social issues they’ve never faced.
- This is those of us who spend all our energy fighting against misguided politicians. Or doctrinally imperfect Christians.
- This is the old man yelling at the TV.
- This is the young man yelling at his wife.
- This is the woman verbally destroying people behind their backs.
“If only this person or these people would be better than I wouldn’t be so broken.”
In every case, completely unaware of your own brokenness and imperfection.
The real comedy: We THINK our ‘fight’ instinct is ‘righteous indignation’ but really the anger stems from our brokenness rather than our love for anyone.
3. Hide We avoid the brokenness in our lives by hiding them in the deep closets of our hearts.
We think we can simply cover up the unsightly things in ourself and we actually believe that they won’t come bubbling back up to the surface. But of course they do.
What we do is we end up ‘curating’ our lives.
Like an art museum, we put the best part of our lives on display, only showing the parts that we find most acceptable.
By the way, this is the idea of all social media. That’s one of the reasons I struggle with it, b/c I know it’s not real. The “fake you” talking to the “fake me” and it does nothing. I’m still surprised that people would rather have 1000 fake friends instead of 5 real ones. But the reason we like that better is because it saves us from having to be open, and honest, and real.
You can be an Instagram big shot and have 0 need for vulnerability.
Many of us create fake personas and we live through this perfect fake person all day and then we go home and complain that people don’t know the real us.
But we never give people the chance.
Hard candy shell Some of us walk around with a hard candy shell on thinking that we’re protecting ourselves, and it’s true to a certain extent, but the cost is just way too high. – There’s no meaningful relationship without vulnerability.
“If you won’t hear the bad news about yourself, you can’t know yourself. You condemn yourself to the maintenance of an exhausting illusion, a false front to your self which keeps out doubt and with it hope, change, nourishment, breath, life. If you won’t hear the bad news, you can’t begin to hear the good news about yourself either. And you’ll do harm.” (Francis Spufford)
(Book:) When we keep our brokenness inside, it turns us into worse versions of ourselves.
David – Psalm 32
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. (Psalm 32:3)
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (Psalm 32:4)
Benefits of vulnerability
1. When you’re vulnerable with the people around you, you give them the opportunity to love the real you.
There’s 1000 things in this series that I’m terrible at, but I have to tell you, being vulnerable is actually something I CAN do. And I’ve been amazed as I’ve grown even as a leader, when I’m open and honest and even unsure about myself how strong my connection with other people can become.
2. When you’re vulnerable with the people around you, you give God the opportunity to use your story to help other people.
“Jars of Clay”
When I was young, I loved the band “Jars of Clay”. Anybody remember them? Well back in the day I had no idea where that name came from.
2 Corinthians 4:1,5-10
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:1)
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; (2 Corinthians 4:8)
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (2 Corinthians 4:9)
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:10)
So he’s talking about the light that shines from the life of the follow of Christ.
But notice HOW he says this light shines.
The light of Christ is revealed through clay jars.
God’s glory is being shown through frail, fragile people, who are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. But not abandoned by God.
This is how God has chosen to show his light to the world. Through fragile, frail vessels.
In corinth – known for making these cheap jars – (lamps) – clay. People would walk around in the dark, holding these lamps. You’d put a candle in them. These lamps were tiny, and cheap, and fragile – reason for that.
The thinner the lamp – the better the light can get out.
If the lamp is cheap and cracked. – More light. More light, less lamp. Nothing great about the lamp.
Paul is comparing himself to the thin, fragile lamp. We are the cheap lamps. Cracked vessels.
These lamps that are so underwhelming that if you see any light coming out of it, you’re not confused about it being because the lamp is so awesome. The only thing that is impressive is the light.
Other heroes of the faith
Comforting and disturbing at the same time: So often these people who are greatly used by God are profoundly broken.
- C.S. Lewis
- Martin Luther King Jr
- John Calvin
- Charles Spurgeon – Depression
Minister and Theologian – In a lot of ways, the founder on Pentecostal Christianity.
Inner life – wreck
QUOTE NEAR THE END OF HIS LIFE:
I do not feel the wrath of God abiding on me; nor can I believe it does. I do not love God. I never did. Therefore I never believed, in the Christian sense of the word. Therefore I am only an honest heathen…
If I ever have had that faith, it would not be so strange. But I never had any other evidence of the eternal or invisible world than I have now; and that is none at all, unless such as faintly shines from reason’s glimmering ray. I have no direct witness of anything invisible or eternal.”
“And yet I dare not preach otherwise. And yet I find rather an increase than a decrease of zeal for the whole work of God and every part of it. I want all the world to come to know what I do not know.”
We can spend so much of our lives guarded from others.
- You just always make wise cracks at everything.
- It comes off super strong and confident.
- No chance of anyone seeing your weakness.
- But it stops real connection. Helping you. Helping others.
For so many of us, we think we have to have it together.
What’s crazy: you think that’s what you have to do in order for God to use you, the opposite is true.
This need to hide and cover is the thing that STOPs God from using you.
When – vulnerable – Connection can happen.
On the other hand, when we’re vulnerable, connection can happen. We can be with other people in a way that is open and honest and messy, and as weird as it sounds that invites God in to come and do something beautiful.
So where does begin? It begins with honesty.
And that’s why Outlet is designed the way it’s designed. That when it comes to someone being imperfect and still growing, I raise my hand and say ‘Me most of us all!’. And the hope is that it creates a safe place for you to not be imperfect, and growing.
Our job as Outlet is to create a safe place for people to come out of hiding.
A place that’s ruled by grace where anyone can be honest.
1. Get honest with God
- Tell him how you feel in every situation.
- Tell him about your anger. Why are you angry?
- Tell him about your fear.
- Tell him about your hopes.
2. Get honest with someone else.
It matters where and with whom you get vulnerable.
How many – tried – be honest w/ someone :
How many of you have had the experience of really trying to honest with someone and you’ve had one of two experiences: 1. They’re shocked and disgusted, or 2. They don’t care.
Do you have someone in your life that you’re totally and completely honest with?
Are you truly known by someone else?
One thing that’s amazing about the cross is that it gives you two things that almost seem to be in contradiction: Humility and Self-Worth.
On one hand, the cross reminds you of how broken and imperfect and flawed and insecure and petty and divisive you can be.
And so you don’t have to hide.
At the last judgement Christ will say to us, “Come, you also.” Come drunkards! Come weaklings! Come, children of shame!” He will say ‘Vile beings, you who are in the image of the beast, but come all the same, you as well.” And the wise and prudent will say “Lord why do you welcome them?” And he will say “If I welcome them it is because not one of them has been judged worthy.” And we will fall at his feet, and we will understand the gospel of grace.” (Fyodor Dostoyovesky – Russian novelist)
Amazing about Jesus
- Savior of the world
- Comforter of your soul.
Some : Even though we don’t like to admit it, some of you need repairing in your heart.
As they pass: Beauty – in not trying to be something that what you really are. Spend a minute thinking about Jesus – who calms the storm.
- In – form – bread / cup – find relationship – Only unbroken one.
- In the form of the bread and the cup – we find relationship with the one true king.
- Invites us to his table – eat / drink – He might abide – you.
- Invites us to his table – eat and drink that I might abide in you and you in me.
Jesus invited each and every one of us, doesn’t matter who we are. Take, eat.