God Makes Broken Things Beautiful
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
August 13, 2017
In a few weeks we’ll finish up a Wednesday night study on CS Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity. Mere Christianity is a compilation of famous talks he gave on BBC radio back in the 1940s. In a chapter called “The Rival Conceptions of God” he said something surprising:
"I have been asked to tell you what Christians believe, and I am going to begin by telling you one thing that Christians do not need to believe. If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through… If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth… But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others."
Lewis believed that kernels of truth could be found in other religions, though all truth ultimately comes from God. Put another way, a way us folks in Cheatham County can understand, even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then. Even false religions and spiritualities get something right every so often.
BUT…our search for truth ends with Jesus. He is THE Truth.
Some time ago, while surfing the net, I came across something I’d never seen or heard of before in my life. There was this video highlighting an ancient Japanese practice that binds together art and philosophy and spirituality so wonderfully, you can’t help but apply it to life, particularly the Christian life.
It’s called kintsugi, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen because it contains truths I think you’ll agree are mirrored in the gospel. To me, it mightily illustrates the ways of God. It’s an example of a blind pig finding an acorn, of a math problem not far from being right.
I’m going to show you that very video and then try to break down how it relates to life…
*** play video
Kintsugi is the art of fixing broken things.
I can think of no better word to describe the reality of life than brokenness. We try to put on a stiff upper lip, to pretend all is well, to put on a happy face, but…
Life breaks you. If you don’t believe that, ask old Job…
Job 14:1 (ESV) — 1 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.
Job 17:1 (ESV) — 1 “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me.
Or ask David…
Psalm 90:10 (ESV) — 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Psalm 69:17–20 (ESV) — 17 Hide not your face from your servant, for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. 18 Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies! 19 You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. 20 Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.
Bob Dylan may be as much a theologian and philosopher as a singer and songwriter. His song, Everything is Broken, sums life up pretty well…
Broken lines, broken strings
Broken threads, broken springs
Broken idols, broken heads
People sleeping in broken beds
Ain’t no use jiving
Ain’t no use joking
Everything is broken
Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken
Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground
Broken cutters, broken saws
Broken buckles, broken laws
Broken bodies, broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin'
Everything is broken
Every time you leave and go off someplace
Things fall to pieces in my face
Broken hands on broken ploughs
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bullfrog croaking
Everything is broken
That brokenness is the experience of both Christians and non-Christians alike. One of the reasons many Christians get disillusioned with their faith is they mistakenly think with it comes freedom from problems and pain, but that ain’t the way it is. In fact, the opposite is true.
Life breaks us because the world we live in is broken, broken with sin. Live long enough and you will experience brokenness because of your sin or others’ sin.
And, as Job discovered, sometimes, God breaks us. One pastor, who went through a Job experience of his own, writes…
"I discovered that God uses brokenness to get our attention. His desired result is the surrender of our will. … At other times, God uses brokenness to get those who already know Him to let go of whatever prevents them from experiencing Him more fully. In either case, brokenness means recognizing that what we have is not enough. It is being out of control.
Although my period of brokenness grew from a sense of personal failure in ministry, times of breaking come in many flavors. For some it takes a shattered marriage, the loss of a loved one, a failed job, or ruined finances. For others the discovery of cancer or an emotional collapse may trigger a season of brokenness. God can use any of these episodes to tame our souls. The source of the situation is not nearly as important as how we respond to it. Although the circumstances may be diverse, the divine goal is very simple—brokenness."
Regardless of what leads to our brokenness, God is in the business of putting things back together…
Psalm 34:18 (ESV) — 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 147:3 (ESV) — 3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Isaiah 61:1 (ESV) — 1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Psalm 51:17 (ESV) — 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
In this regard, Kintsugi is spot on.
The young man in the video said kintsugi is not about looking at the physical appearance of the dish. It’s about the one looking at the dish giving it value and beauty.
Wow. More truth for us. We see this shattered mess and God sees beauty and worth.
That is the wonder of the Gospel. God sent his son Jesus to save us from our brokenness. How did he do that? He experienced brokenness on the cross so we could know wholeness!
Romans 5:8 (ESV) — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In a way, the Christian life this side of heaven is God taking us piece by piece and putting us back together, mending our cracks with the gold of his grace like a master kintsugi craftsman.
The thing about kintsugi is that the piece is more beautiful and of more value after being mended than before it was broken!
When God mends us, he makes into something more beautiful than we would have been had we never been broken.
That young man also said… “handing them (broken dishes) to us means you will give the dish the total new life as a beautiful art piece.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) — 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Being broken isn’t fun. In fact, some are so broken by this world that they wonder if God will ever be able to put them back together again. They wonder how God could take such pain, such suffering, and make anything beautiful out of it. To be honest, they may never know that wholeness in this life. However…
In the new heavens and earth, those put back together by God will be walking trophies of His grace, living pieces of kintsugi artwork displaying the masterful hand of God our father.
CS Lewis, in his work The Great Divorce, tells of a fictitious dream. He visits hell and then heaven. In heaven he speaks to a man about the suffering and brokenness experienced on earth.
That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. -- CS Lewis, The Great Divorce
The bigger the cracks, the greater God’s glory!
Now if you’re sharp, you may be thinking, “The brokenness I experienced on earth will play some role in heaven? No way. Heaven is about forgetting all that. I won’t even know there was suffering and pain.”
I hear you. For a long time, even as a pastor, I thought our experience in heaven would be void of any remembrance of our sufferings on this earth. But let me show you something.
After Jesus was crucified and then resurrected, he met up with one of the disciples, a disciple that doubted Jesus had really returned…
John 20:26–28 (ESV) — 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Two things about this:
- If all sufferings and pains experienced on earth will be wiped from our memories in heaven, then why leave the scars on Jesus’ resurrection body? They wouldn’t mean anything to us.
- If Jesus’ resurrection body displays God’s grace applied to earthly suffering, why not ours in some way?
Conclusion: When we walk around the new heavens and earth and see the scars in Jesus’ hands, feet, and side, we are going to jump and dance and shout with joy, worshipping him with total abandon because those scars inflicted by horrific suffering in the old world are the reason we enjoy bliss in the new world. They work backwards.
And so it will be for us. All the wounds, all the brokenness we suffered in our old life will be filled with the gold of God’s grace, and we will walk around as beautiful displays of his love and power and mercy forever.
In the video, that young craftsman said something that really stuck with me. And I’ll close with this.
“Many people have started to do kintsugi. I believe it is because people are realizing that chasing after money and new stuff and new technology will not make us rich in a spiritual way.”
There’s that kernel of truth again. You cannot find true happiness or joy or relief from brokenness in money or new stuff or technology… or a job or a spouse or a child or anything else this world can give.
When you tie up your identity in those things, it leads to more brokenness because they cannot bear the weight.
Kintsugi isn’t the answer. Jesus is. Give him your brokenness and he will turn you into a beautiful testimony to his grace and love.
Content Copyright Belongs to Pleasant View First Baptist Church