I once asked a friend why had they stopped coming to Mass – their response – they were “taking a break from religion to sort their life out”… And I had to ask, doesn’t this miss the point of religion – of our relationship with God? Isn’t it God who wants us to come to him with our brokenness, with our weakness, and with our unsorted lives in all their glorious messes?! Can our lives ever be “sorted out” by ourselves?
Life is messy – we all know. But the question is, what are you going to do with your mess when it hits you square in the face? Are you going to try and sort it all out yourself – or are you going to give it to God? Are you prepared to drop to your knees and pray, “Lord, I cannot, I give my mess to you. Help me.” – Because that’s what we need to do. That’s something that God can work with – a humble and contrite heart. God can’t work within someone who’s got it “sorted out”.
‘this KINGDOM’ is a video that has been directed and edited by Eliot Rausch; it uses the combined input of a message from the heart of Darren Rouanzoin , and a moment in the life of Brian Wolke with his family. It’s powerful, it’s honest, and it tells us just who it is that this Kingdom belongs to. (Note: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS PROFANITY.)
The great thing about this video is that it’s raw. It helps us to see exactly that which we find in scripture over and over again – that the Kingdom of God belongs to everyone. But the video, ‘this KINGDOM’, takes that message, and it places it right next to the very real and gritty realities of our world today.
A Closer Look:
The words of Brian Wolke are particularly striking.
“Everyone talks a good game about faith – but when faith is tested, people crumble”. Hardship and suffering happens. It tests. But what we have to see is that our faith can never be the “Cherry on top” of the cake that is life; something to decorate our wonderfully sorted-out lives with. Rather, our faith is more like the mixing bowl into which we throw all of our messy ingredients – Our faith is more like the oven which transforms all those ingredients into that delicious cake – that transforms each one of us into the unique child of God that we are.
There’s no room and there’s no time for abandoning faith at the first hurdle. Brian says in the video, “Either He is or He isn’t. Either He’s all – or He’s nothing.” The decision has to be made, either our Catholic faith, in all its sacramental richness, is the most important thing in the world – or it is utterly useless. There’s no middle ground in which we say that it’s just there to teach us some nice stuff about how to treat one another… Those words are empty by comparison to the claims of our faith.
If our faith is our all, then we don’t crumble when we are faced with the messiness of our lives – but we see that the mess becomes our joy. We see that God wants our mess. We don’t deny our brokenness, nor do we try to resolve it ourselves, but we recognise its reality, and we bring it to God.
We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to be real.
Below are some scriptural passages that remind us that we don’t need to have our lives “sorted out”, but that God calls us as we are. That God’s kingdom is a call that goes out to everyone – inside and outside of the church.
Lk 5: 31-32 – This Kingdom calls sinners:
‘It is not those who are well that need the doctor, but the sick. I have come not to call the upright but sinners’.
1 Cor 1: 27 – This Kingdom calls the weak:
‘He chose those who by human standards are weak’.
2 Cor 12: 9-10 – This Kingdom perfects weakness:
‘He has answered me, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses… for when I am weak, then I am strong’.
Ps 34: 18 – This Kingdom is close to the broken:
‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit’.
1 Pt 4: 12-13 – This Kingdom calls us to suffer with Christ:
‘Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you… but rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed’.
Phil 4: 11-13 – This Kingdom strengthens us now:
‘Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content… in any and all circumstances … I can do all things in him who strengthens me.’
2 Cor 1: 8-9 – This Kingdom will save us when we give our mess to God:
‘[W]e were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God’.
Musical note to finish:
Have a listen to ‘Brokenness Aside’ by All Sons & Daughters – it speaks of the beauty of our brokenness when we offer it to God our Saviour.
Our brokenness is not bad when we give it to God. Our brokenness is the space into which God will readily come if we invite him. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be real.