In the Middle of the Mess
The Ultimate Fix For a Boring Christian Life
The world thinks religious people spend all their time being, well, religious. Not Jesus. He spent his days with messy people in messy situations. He ate with crooked businessmen who cheated people out of their hard-earned wages. He befriended the terrorists of his day (back then they were called zealots). He hung out with prostitutes— not former prostitutes but girls who were still in the trade. He was constantly in the middle of all manner of messy situations, speaking words of grace and truth and chastising the religious leaders for keep- ing themselves aloof from these dear people whom God loved. It’s what Jesus did back then and what he wants to continue to do now through his people—through you and me.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to quit your job. It just means you have to think about your job differently. Yes, honor God through the excellence you bring to your work, but realize there’s more to it than that. Your job can be a place where you engage with the brokenness of the world. It can provide an opportunity to prac- tice “the transforming power of being with.”1 When you start to open yourself up to this new way of thinking, you’ll discover formulas don’t work. Religious platitudes will ring hollow. There will be times when you don’t know what to do or what to say. The people God brings across your path will care much more about your compassion than your theology. But hang on to your hat because life will start to take on a whole new perspective. It won’t be just a job anymore. It will become your calling.
Moving toward the mess isn’t an elective for spiritual giants. It’s at the center of what God is doing in the world. He moves toward the mess in order to redeem those who have created it. He wants us all to get involved. Granted, we will each have different roles in the effort. It’s like being part of a large, multifaceted army. Some soldiers will be on the front lines. Some will be mechanics keeping the tanks and trucks running. And others will be medics taking care of the wounded. You may be in any of a thousand roles as a soldier, but each role is important in fighting the war. Each role contributes to the victory.
So why should you even bother? Wementioned two reasons at the beginning of the chapter: (1) moving toward the mess will kick the boredom right out of your life; (2) it’sone of the best ways in the world to learn to follow Jesus. But there’s a third reason. Moving toward the mess will soften your heart. The chaos takes on a human shape. It has a voice. It has a story. You’ll discover you’re no longer talking about principles and statistics and ideas. You’re talking about someone’s life, someone you’ve started to care about. And your heart will start to soften. It might even break. Fortunately, God is in the business of healing broken hearts. And those who have experienced this will tell you that a healed heart beats a hardened heart every time.
© 2016 John Hambrick. Move Towards the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.