There is no ‘top of the tree’ in God’s Kingdom

I’ve often heard people say “there is beauty in our brokenness”. Recently I saw a post on Pinterest about “Kintsukori” –

“the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken”.

It’s a lovely expression, but do we really believe it?

Compared to a lot of people, I’ve had an easy life. I haven’t been battered about by life in the same way as lots of people I know. Sometimes, friends share their stories with me and I get a glimpse into what they’ve endured. I always feel humbled that they’ve dealt with so much, and wonder how I would cope in their situations.

I think we all know a little of what it is to be broken. At some point, we’ve all come face to face with the ugliness inside of us and the ugliness of the world around us. We reach a stage of being unable to find strength anymore, and that’s when we fall apart. Sometimes people use the expression ‘make or break’ – this experience will either improve you as a person, or it will break you.

Coming to that point of emptiness in terms of your own ability and strength, is painful but necessary. It’s then when God meets us and fills us with His love. We admit we can’t go on, and He takes over. This process seems to repeat itself in my life.

But for some people, life breaks them in ways that can’t be so easily ‘fixed’. Broken mirrors may look beautiful, but they also distort the image of the person who looks into them. I’ve seen how life experience and people’s cruelty (intentional or otherwise) can distort a person, so that they struggle to relate to God, or other people. I know that God is beautifully ready to gently take them by the hand and lead them through their pain, at the time that’s right for them. I’ve seen Him do it many times.

What I struggle with is our reaction to broken people. I remember, growing up, how quick I was to judge people around me, sometimes without even realising it. Gradually, God has worn down a lot of the prejudices I didn’t even know I had, but I think as Christians, it’s all too easy to fall into. It’s so easy to label people, to assume that you know why they’re behaving a certain way.

One of the things I’ve always loved about our church is the way we love and include so many different people. Yet I still think we can do better. I sometimes hear it said that we should aim to attract a certain type of person to our church – an image of “apples at the top of tree” – and I know that when people say that, they aren’t deliberately out to exclude anyone. But I hate that expression because, without meaning to, it makes some people feel like they’re worth less than others.

We are all broken, we are all ‘bruised’ apples. Some of us just carry our bruises a little closer to the surface of our skin. God wants to use all of us to build His church.

I keep coming back to a video I saw a while ago, which you can watch below. It focuses on three characters in the bible: the thief hanging by Jesus’ side as he died, Paul, and the woman Jesus encountered who was about to be stoned for adultery. Like every one of us, they were all sinners, judged with varying degrees by those around them. Jesus honoured them and loved them. He loved them, not in spite of their brokenness, but through it.

If you’ve got to the end of this article and you’re thinking “yes, but…” or “no, because…” write your “yes but” or “no because” in the comments below.

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I live in a Christian community house with 15 other people and a cat called Smudge. I may be a bit too obsessed with spotting misplaced apostrophes and I have an appreciation for terrible jokes. I love bacon, seeing young people find freedom, deep discussions and discovering new cupcake cafés.

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