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October 19, 2013

‘The Church of the Brokenhearted’

Pella —

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). 
In the movie Rudy, character Father Cavanaugh offers the definitive confession: “Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I'm not Him.” 
In the church today, it can be said with the same certainty that among God’s people there are only two types of congregants: those who are the brokenhearted and those who don’t know or admit that they are the brokenhearted.
What keeps people from revealing their broken hearts ranges from pride to fear with the often derailing of self-denial. When a believer succumbs to sin or is swept up in scandal or is faced with tragedy and grieves, repents, and turns to Jesus, one would think that Christ’s very body, the church, would be that lush green pasture to still the disquieted spirit. One would think that from the pulpit the proclamation of “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,” the words of Psalm 147:3, would be a balm for the soul.
But too often the church fails to be that blessed haven for restoration and is instead a breeding ground for what the apostle Paul called, “quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.” Too often the saints stand in judgment of each other and relish in the fall of another, a sibling in the faith no less.
When the evangelist James said, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves,” he was not just saying, go and visit the poor and fix up their houses. The outworking of Christianity does not begin with repairing roofs and mending fences, but with the ministry of reconciliation. 
Jesus Christ entrusted the church with the message of reconciliation, which he ultimately demonstrated when he came to reconcile the sinner with the heavenly Father. The Bible records the treacherous crossing over the Red Sea and the challenge of crossing the Jordan River, but to cross over the greater chasm created by sin and defilement (in order for the sinner to be reconciled before a holy God) would be utterly impossible if it were not the Son leading the believer by the hand.

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