I think I finally realized that the verse in the Bible, “Life with Christ is clean, uncluttered, organized and orderly” does not exist. BUT, for some reason I’ve been living under the assumption that I’d see it as a reference at the bottom of my daily devotion in Jesus Calling.
Now, why I would think that, I’m not sure. Because if my life is any indicator of the importance of order in a Believer’s life, then I would look nothing like a follower of Jesus.
In fact, I’ve never felt my life being pulled towards messiness more than now. Through a series of promptings from my boss, my relationships and reading Prototype, I’m finally seeing that mess isn’t just a part of life, but it’s actually what makes life real and beautiful. So, for that reason, I’m challenging myself (and since you’re reading this, you) to rush towards the mess.
I have this incredible privilege to work at an organization that has a vision entirely caught up in getting messy with others. We engage with orphans, widows, homeless, uneducated and people that call the worst slums in Cambodia their home. No matter how systematic our stance or how holistically we approach poverty, it is a mess. But, I can say that this is the thing that, almost singlehandedly, has shown me how gorgeous dirty things can be. Helping, loving (because that’s simply what we’re called to do) and leveraging our power to give opportunities to others creates change and beautiful relationships amidst the mess.
Speaking of relationships, isn’t that one of the places we’re most scared of being involved in mess? In platonic or romantic relationships, I’m positive I’m not the only one that can say I’ve been burned, disappointed and let down. I can also say I’ve done the burning, disappointing and letting down. Those three words are some of the messiest words I’ve experienced. But, I can also say that within the messy confines of those relationships I’ve had the most beautiful, amazing, fun, memorable, wonderful experiences in life. I suppose relationships are the ultimate Catch-22. And one I’m willing to deal with. Fear should never keep us from being willing to jump in. Now, don’t think that I’m not saying you should exercise caution often, because you should; but you shouldn’t blur the lines between caution and fear. I would gladly relive some of the bad I’ve experienced within relationships, because of all the good that came from them as well. Messy relationships are okay; in fact, that’s what makes them real.
The last section of mess I want to talk about is the mess within Christian community. This is, without a doubt, the hardest one for me to write about. But, as I mentioned earlier, Prototype, a book written by my former youth pastor, Jonathan Martin, has challenged me to dive back into the mess of Christian community. I have spent the past four years of my life talking about how drawn I am to Jesus, but how repelled I am by church. But, Pastor Jonathan put it in a way that’s making me thinking twice, “There is no gathering of people who meet in the name of Jesus, however formally or informally, that is not messy, and no relationship that is not complex.”
He goes on to say, “When you’ve been scarred by encounters with crazy Christians, or find yourself inexplicably drawn to the person of Jesus despite the rather absurd people who seem to think they are conducting His business in the world, it really is tempting to ask, ‘Can’t I just have a relationship with Jesus and not the church?’ Actually, no. You can’t.” While I wish I could give you the depth that he does on this messy relationship with the church, I’m just going to suggest you read the book for yourself. But, I will say, he reminded me of why I need Christian community, “Even now, I need somebody to love me enough to take me by the hand and lead me into the joyful celebration of my belovedness. That is what Christian community is all about.” Church may be messy and imperfect, but it’s being run by humans, how could we expect it not to be? Instead of looking at the imperfections, we should look at the power that a community full of Believers can hold.
All of this to say, life is messy, but there is a point. Through this mess we can help others, find people to love us and engage in community that encourages us. Let’s stop being scared of the mess and begin to “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:18).”