We are continuing our ongoing reflections on brokenness and today we are reflecting on being broken and secure. Now you may wonder, “How is it possible to be both broken and secure?” It seems to us like these two things cannot go together. After all, when we think of being secure, we think of “having it all together.” We think security means being successful in our personal and professional life, having our bills all paid and our retirement all planned out. If you have a spouse, security means they still love you. If you have kids, security means they still want to be around you even when they don’t want something from you. And if you have a dog, security means he doesn’t growl at you when you sit on his end of the couch.
On the other hand, brokenness means the opposite of “having it all together.” Brokenness means that sometimes we run out of money before we run out of month. Brokenness means that sometimes people who really love each other also really hurt each other. Brokenness means that though you would like to have a career that you find personally fulfilling, right now you would be glad to have a job where you were treated like a person instead of an object. It does not seem possible to us to be both broken and secure.
So let’s focus on the topic of security: What is it? Why do we need it? And where do we find it?
First, security: what is it? Security is having protection that will keep you safe throughout a time of danger. Now security does not depend at all on our feelings about the danger. It doesn’t matter whether you are calm or fearful. Nor does your security depend on the level of confidence you may have in your protection. All that matters is whether your protection works or not.
For example, on April 13, 1970, the Command Module of Apollo 13 was heavily damaged by an explosion in an oxygen tank. The only realistic option available to NASA was to use the Lunar Module as a lifeboat to keep the 3 man crew safe while the spaceship continued towards the moon, slingshot around it and returned back to earth. No one knew if it could be done. The Lunar Module was not designed to do such a thing. But the Lunar Module provided the protection that the crew of Apollo 13 needed to get back to earth. The crew had security even though they didn’t know they would need it and they didn’t know it would work. To be secure, your protective object has to work.
So why do we need security? Perhaps you guessed from the introduction, one of the reasons that each and every human being needs security is because we are broken. We human beings are limited in the sense that we are finite. We have limited power, limited wisdom and limited time and space. But what makes our situation dire is that fact that everything about us broken, everything about us is flawed, everything about us is corrupted. And, because we are all part of an interconnected web of relationships and influence, our brokenness then spreads out from us into the world and lasts beyond our lifetimes. We leave an imprint in the world and because we are broken, our imprint on the world is also broken.
We need security because we are broken but we also need security because, on our own, we stand condemned before God. Now you may say to yourself, ‘that hardly seems fair.’ We are the ones that are broken and we didn’t choose to be broken. How can we be held responsible for our own brokenness? Let me answer that question with two points. First of all, there is such a thing as corporate guilt. On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood up in the House of Commons and apologized on behalf of all Canadians to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada for the Residential School System. You may say, ‘I had nothing to do with the residential school system, I did nothing wrong. Why is Stephen Harper apologizing on my behalf?’ The reason is that, as a Canadian, you are part of system that was responsible for the residential school system. You have corporate guilt. So it was appropriate for Stephen Harper to apologize on your behalf.
In the same way, you are a human being. And because you are a human being, you and I are part of a system that has been and continues to be in rebellion against God, the Creator of that system. Therefore, along with everyone else in the human system, we are responsible for humanity’s rebellion against God. We are condemned because we have corporate guilt.
But we are also condemned because we have individual guilt. You and I are adding to guilt of the whole human system with our own personal rebellion against God. And it is not as though God is sending us kicking and screaming into eternal condemnation. The reality is that you and I are choosing condemnation for ourselves. As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.” Left to our own devices, we prefer to have things our own way rather than God’s way, and if we persist in that direction, one day God will say, “Okay, have it your way.” But then we will be separate from God forever. And that is what eternal condemnation will be… life without God forever.
And a third reason why we need security is that the usual sources of security to which we turn will not save us. We seem to have an innate sense of insecurity so we tend to turn to people, possessions and power to make us feel secure. The problem with people as a source of security is that other people are just as broken as we are, so they will all fail us at some point. The problem with possessions is that our possessions can be taken away from us in a moment, so our possessions will never give us security.
Power comes in different forms: there is financial power, there is positional power and there is the power of influence. And because it is Mother’s Day today, let’s think for a moment about the role of power in families. Generally speaking in families, who do you think has the most financial power? It is the person in the family who makes the financial decisions. Who do you think has the most positional power? That depends. If yours is a patriarchal family, it is the husband. If yours is a matriarchal family it is the wife. If yours is an egalitarian family, then husband and wife share the positional power in the family more or less equally. Now who do you think, generally speaking, has the most power of influence in a family unit when there are children? Probably the mother. We even have a saying about this: Happy wife… happy life. So mothers… what do you think will happen if you make your power of influence the bedrock of your life, the thing that you trust in through thick and thin, the thing that will keep you safe when danger comes along because no matter what, you know, you just know, that your children and your husband will do everything in their power to protect you, cherish you, nurture you and save you, because you have such huge amount of influence in their lives? What do you think will happen if you make your power of influence the source of your security? You are going to be a very insecure person. Remember, our usual sources of security will not save us.
What is security? Why do we need it? And, third, where do we find security? In her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, psychologist and author Susan Jeffers writes that underneath all of our regular everyday fears is one great big fear. And that great big fear can be stated like this: “I will not be able to handle it.” But the it that we cannot handle will be different for each one of us. When I did this exercise about 13 years ago, I had two great big fears. One was to experience the death of a child. And the second was that Susan, my wife, would leave me. Now I want to clarify that Susan did not give me reason to believe that she was going to leave me. Our fears do not need to be well-founded. They only have to be possibilities.
So what is the fear underneath all of your other fears? What is your great big fear? I will give you a moment to think about that. And when you think you know what your great big fear is, write it down on a piece of paper or pull your phone out and make a note on your phone. You can write, “My great big fear is that I will not be able to handle ________” and you fill in the blank. I realize that facing up to your great big fear is likely to be a very scary thing for you. My purpose today is not emotional manipulation. My purpose is to help you. Often times, just naming the fear will take away a large amount of its power. So, I am asking you, not right now, but sometime today, share your great big fear with someone you trust. But the ultimate way to break all of the power of your great big fear is to get to a place where you can truthfully say, “you know what, even if my great big fear happens, I know that I will get through it somehow,” then your great big fear will no longer control you. You need a source of security that will carry you through your great big fear.
Remember that the source of our security has to be able to keep us safe when we go through whatever trials may come upon us. (And how do you know a potential source of security will work in a time of danger? You don’t, unless that source of security has already shown its ability to protect people through the same kind of danger that you potentially face. So if your great big fear is about whether your basic needs will be provided, you want a source of security that has experienced both great wealth and great poverty and has proven its ability to provide for basic needs in the midst of both. If your great big fear is about being betrayed, you want a source of security that has experienced betrayal and yet has proven its ability to continue to be faithful, even when being betrayed. If your great big fear is death, either your death or the death of a loved one, then you want a source of security that has experienced death and has proven the ability to defeat death for others.
Your source of security has to be able to keep you safe when your great big fear becomes a reality, but even that ability is not enough to keep us broken people truly secure. A potential source of security may have more power than anything else in all of creation, but that still will not give you security if that potential source of security does not care about you.
Only Jesus has all of the power needed to overcome all of the things that can really harm you. Only Jesus loves you with an infinite, unconditional love and both knows and wants what is best for you. Only Jesus set aside all the riches of heaven to live a perfect human life in poverty for you. Only Jesus was betrayed by all of his closest friends, condemned unjustly by the leaders of his own faith and crucified without cause by his own government for you. Only Jesus suffered and died on a cross for all of your sins. Only Jesus lay in a tomb for parts of three days for you. Only Jesus rose from the dead for you. Only Jesus sits at the right hand of God and rules over all of creation for you. Only Jesus promised to never leave you or forsake you. Only Jesus is going to come back to this world and reboot you and all of creation to its original, pristine goodness. And in that moment, only Jesus will look into your eyes and say to you, I have loved you since before the foundations of the world when you were just an idea in my heavenly Father’s mind, I was loving you as they pounded those nails into my wrists and feet and hung me on that cross to die, and I love you right now and for all eternity in the new heavens and earth.
In every other religion in the world, you are your only source of security. You have to do things to earn your salvation. You have to do things to keep yourself safe. You have to do things to earn God’s attention and favour.
But in Christianity, Jesus is your source of security. Jesus has paid the price to set you free from condemnation. Jesus has won your salvation for you. Jesus will keep you safe through whatever trials you will face. Jesus, by his works, has already earned for you God’s attention and favour. Only Jesus will carry you through your great big fear. Only with Jesus as your source of security will you be able to say, even if my great big fear happens, I know that Jesus will get me through it.
How do we become secure in Jesus? First, it means repentance, it means turning away from all of the other things in our lives that we look to for security. You cannot simply add Jesus to your life and expect Jesus to provide security to your existing values and priorities. Second, becoming secure in Jesus means asking him to come into our lives and radically reprioritize everything in our lives so that Jesus is at the top and everything else is under him. Looking to Jesus for security will mean that your life will get turned upside down. But you will be secure in every area of life where Jesus is Lord.
Our security in life needs to be totally centred in the God-who-saves. Not only for our sake but also for the sake of others. Only when we are secure in God can we say “yes” to him when he invites us to play a part in his plan of saving the world. This is evident in the life of Mary. Mary was a poor, insignificant, young woman, who could have said to God, “I need to get my poverty issues dealt with first God and then I will say yes to you,” or “I need to wait until I have accomplished something in this world first and then I will say yes to you,” or “I need to wait until I am older, Lord, and then I will say yes to you.” Mary did not say any of those things. Her security was wholeheartedly centred in the God-who-saves and she said yes to God. And God used her to be the mother of the Saviour of the world.
God, you see, works through people who are broken before Jesus and secure in Jesus. Because of Jesus and his love and grace for us we are totally willing to be completely transparent before Jesus with all of our sin, all of our brokenness and all of our failures. And because Jesus has redeemed our lives and made us into beloved, forgiven children of God who will live forever in wholeness and purity with Jesus in the new heaven and earth, we are 100% secure in him. Nothing, not even death will separate us from Jesus and his great love for us. We readily admit our brokenness before Jesus and we constantly remind ourselves of who we are in Jesus. We can scarcely believe it ourselves, but it is true. Though you are broken, because of Jesus and what he has done, you are also secure in him. And in the security you have in Jesus, you are free to say “yes” to him. And so this week, I invite you to take your great big fear to Jesus and let him show you how he will be your source of security in all aspects of your life and he will make a positive and lasting imprint on this world through you.
(Shared at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, Langley BC on May 11, 2014.)
 C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (HarperCollins: New York, 1946), p. 75 of 146, location 718 of 1401, HarperCollins ebook edition.