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No one gets off the hook. By the time St. Paul is done with the beginning of Romans, we all have been hit. We are all broken.

Surely some are better off, though, right? I can be a bit better than other people and make God proud of me.

So much of our life is driven by that hope. If I do good stuff, God will be proud of me.

The problem is, I can never do enough. I am not good enough. Deep down, I know it. I know I am broken. I know I do evil things.

And this is what St. Paul tells us through the beginning of Romans. No one gets off the hook. We are all evil. He quotes Psalm 14 and continues with other Psalms. These Psalms were often applied only to the ‘fool.’

Paul applies them to everyone. We are all broken. This includes everyone. Every single person.

The moralist who judges others even though he’s a hypocrite.

The church-goer who thinks she is God’s special, chosen friend.

The prostitute on the corner.

The guy with the God hates fags sign.

The rebellious child. The rebellious child’s parents. The people who have been condemned by the church. The churchy people doing the condemning.

All broken.

The result of this is that every mouth is stopped and we’re all accountable before God. We’re all broken. We’ll all answer for it (Rom 3.19-20).

Not too encouraging, huh? Deep down, though, I think it resonates with us because we know it’s true. We know that we are broken. We know that we wish our lives were different.

Not only is the message true, it frees us in two important ways.

The message that we are all broken frees us from the lies we are telling. It frees us from trying to admit we have it all together. It frees us from pretending. We can be as we are: Broken. And we can seek redemption.

It also frees us from a judgmental spirit. Since we’re all broken, there is no room to stand in judgment of my neighbor. We who judge do all the same things as the people we are judging (Rom 2.1). Paul shows us that the yelling pastor, the self-proclaimed theology police officer, the gay prostitute, the priest, the business owner, and the homeless drug addict are all coming from the exact same place: Broken, hurting, and in desperate need of redemption.

You’re broken. I’m broken. God will fix us.



2 Responses

  1. James,

    Your excellent post reminded me of something that G.K. Chesterton wrote about believing in the doctrine of the Fall:

    But the important matter was this, that it [the doctrine of the Fall] entirely reversed the reason for optimism. And the instant the revearsal was made it felt like the abrupt ease when a bone is put back in the socket. I had often called myself an optimist, to avoid the too evident blasphemy of pessimism. But all the optimism of the age had been false and disheartening for this reason, that it had always been trying to prove that we fit in the world. The Christian optimism is based on the fact that we do not fit in the world. I had tried to be happy by telling myself that man is an animal, like any other which sought its meat from God. But now I was really happy, for I had learnt that man is a monstrosity. I had been right in feeling all things as odd, for I myself was at once worse and better than all things. The optimist’s pleasure was prosaic, for it dwelt on the naturalness of everything; the Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt in the unnaturalness of everything in the light of the supernatural. The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I had still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring. The knowledge found out and illuminated forgotten chambers in the dark house of infancy. I knew now why grass had always seemed to me as queer as the green beard of a giant, and why I could feel homesick at home.

    – From his book, Orthodoxy

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