Jesus Runs To The Mess

Jesus Runs To The Mess

By David Acker, Youth Minister

Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been a paralytic for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the man replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ “

Life is messy, sometimes overwhelmingly so.  Our lives don’t often end up the way we pictured or like a neatly wrapped gift with a bow on top. We have an idea of what a perfect day looks like and strive toward it, but we never reach it because a perfect day isn’t reality.

Even on the days that by theory go perfectly, there is for many of us the feeling of not being satisfied because we know we wake up the next day and begin the search for another perfect day again.

Part of living in contentment is understanding that our lives are messy, busy, and sometimes chaotic. The reason our lives are messy is that we are messy and sometimes hurting or broken. Our hearts and desires are often messy and at times pull us away from the peace that Jesus desires for us and the freedom in which He wants us to walk.

Jesus wants us to live in freedom. He wants us to trust Him with the mess of our broken past, the mess we have made by our own sin, the mess that we deal with from how we have been sinned against, and the mess that comes from living in a broken world.

Over and over in the Bible, we see Jesus moving toward people’s mess and moves in. He rolls up his sleeves, he sees distortion and enters in anyways. Jesus isn’t afraid of our mess, our past, our personality flaws, or the deepest secrets we keep masked from everyone else. 

The truth of the Gospel is that God stepped into our messy world to save us and set us free. God didn’t try to just love us from a distance. He didn’t encourage us to clean ourselves up or command us to try harder and live a better life. By sending Jesus, God ran into the mess for us. Jesus did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

“Say something!“”Reach out and get the help you need!“”You are not alone! 
We are here if you need anything!

Those sentiments are all well-intentioned, and in a perfect world, these statements actually would be helpful. A person in their right mind would hear a phrase like “call me if you need anything at all” and would respond in kind with a phone call confessing all manner of negative thoughts and destructive activities. Then again, someone in their “right mind” wouldn’t exactly need help with their mental state.  

But here is what I know, our mental health is becoming more and more of a priority. All the while real life seems to be escaping us and rather we rush to post about all the good on social media, share our views on a keyboard, and having instant results. We live in a world that demands you choose a side and make a stand. Then we demonize the ones that oppose us, forgetting so quickly that everyone has a story. Every single one has a life that has determined thought processes and what makes them who they are. When we make blanket statements and base everything that we think on those we miss out on what Jesus was trying to show us. We all have mess. We all have junk in our life that we are hopelessly stuck with unless we have Jesus to run in and help us clear it out. 

And we often forget that its a process and that Jesus never once said to go and clean up your life and return back and hopefully I can fit you into my schedule but in the meantime feel free to write me if you find yourself in trouble. That’s the opposite of what we see. 
This is what I have found to be true when people have struggles or need help. We are physically, mentally and emotionally unable to call you in case we needed something. From the outside looking in, the answers look simple (and they really, really are), but therein is the issue. When you’re inside, everything is distorted. Everything.

What if us as followers of Jesus, saw pain and entered anyways? What if we let that shape us and mold us to have a better empathy for others instead of taking the stance of the most popular Christian movie that makes atheists the enemy? We don’t even have to know what we are doing. But when we see that life is less than ideal for others or that they have been withdrawn, we enter in and roll up our sleeves willing to sit there in the pain. Willing to stand next to others and not have to fix anything but just be present.

Very few of us are willing to be invasive for the sake of reaching across the unknown in case someone is in need. In the same way you might refrain from asking someone if they’re pregnant in case they are not, our relational posture becomes passive for many reasons.
Yet passivity is hardly ever the correct posture in any situation, since it’s primarily rooted in fear. Being a real friend might mean not knowing what to say or even what is going on, but to be determined to be active rather than passive, to follow the clues to their end, one way or another, rather than waiting for a report from someone else.We need to know that we can’t be the ones that provide the healing. We simply get to be lifelines to help people try again. It might be long hours of silence or even sad conversations. That first step out of the spiral might be just enough momentum to take the next one.

When I see the advice flying around, it heartens me to know concerned citizens are out there. I’m thankful for such services that exist to support those who seek help-suicide hotlines, recovery groups formed around an identified need or addiction, counselors who specialize in mental health.

However I also know that a great many of those teetering on the edge between this life and the next are unlikely to dial those 11 digits or get dressed to go to that group that meets in the church basement. What they need is someone who will roll up their sleeves and enter into the void for them, someone who can bring that outside perspective into what feels like a bottomless pit.

Run into the mess but just know the mess might change your heart. You might start to see people in a different light and I pray your life is turned upside down and the issues of this world will grow strangely dim as you love others well.