Have you ever been lost? Driving through an unknown city, unsure of whether to turn back or forge on by yourself, and (hopefully) find your way?
Have you ever felt lost? Felt adrift in the tide of your busy life, not to mention the chaos of the world around you?
Have you ever felt broken, like there was something wrong with you that just couldn’t be fixed?
For a few years now, I have dealt with panic attacks and anxiety. During the dreary days of late-winter in New England, I often find myself suffering from bad seasonal depression as well. Everyday normal life counts as a “good day.” Bad days feel like the world is crushing me and I don’t know what to do.
It took years for me to get to the point where I asked for help and got mental health treatment.
So many people now suffer from mental health issues – often quietly, without anyone else knowing. Others among us carry the weight of the pain and guilt of the “sins of our past” – the choices and mistakes we’ve made along the way, or may even still be making.
All of us suffer from a world around us that, especially lately, seems to revel in a fundamental lack of compassion. Or, as I would put it: people are just mean. Even Christians.
All these things can leave us feeling disconnected – from those around us, from ourselves, and from God. And in those moments, the culture around us heaps upon the message that we are in some way, somehow, “other.”
Where does God fit into all of that? What should we, as followers of Christ, do about it?
Are we crazy?
In his sermon this past Sunday, Pastor Chris Haydon started with a frank statement about how the world perceives Christians – “Lot’s of people think we’re nuts.” For many people outside the Christian community faith is incomprehensible; there’s just so much “crazy” stuff going on in the Bible. Pastor Chris specifically mentioned the prophet Isaiah running around naked in Isaiah 20.
In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis found himself making the argument that Jesus was either a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord.
If you haven’t seen Chris’s sermon, he does a pretty amazing job of explaining why we’re not crazy or nuts. And if you haven’t read Mere Christianity, Lewis makes a pretty convincing argument as well that Jesus is neither a lunatic or a liar, but rather the Lord.
But I actually want to flip this whole question on its head. I wonder if instead of asking “Are we crazy?” we should be asking, “Are we crazy enough?”
The Suffering Servant
This week we’ve been spending time in the book of Isaiah, chapter 53. I remember doing the whole “Read the Bible in a Year” thing a few years ago, and coming to Isaiah 53. It struck me as one of the most incredible prophesies in the Old Testament, because it so clearly describes Jesus, despite having been written about 700 years before Christ’s birth.
Isaiah 53 depicts Jesus as the suffering servant – not a conquering warrior or a gilded ruler, but rather a humble man who knew pain and suffering, who experienced grief. Jesus himself restates this in Mark 10 when he states “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In a culture obsessed with self-interest and self-advancement, you’d have to be crazy to actually follow Jesus. To put others ahead of yourself. To care for the broken people around you.
Comfort & Care In Our Brokenness
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul opens by offering this praise:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
~2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We are all broken people. We all have good days and bad days. Everyone around us is searching for some comfort in their lives – some reprieve from the struggles they face, each and every day.
We worship a God who came into our brokenness – who finds us in our personal wilderness, and brings light, and love, and hope into our lives. On my good days I try to comfort those I encounter with the same comfort I’ve received from Christ. And on my bad days, I look back to Christ for that comfort, and so often see brothers and sisters in Christ trying their best to offer comfort to me as well.
Struggling with your mental health does not make you “crazy.” Asking for help does not make you “crazy.”
Believe it or not, showing love to broken people does not make you “crazy.”
But if Jesus is a light into our lives, and we can reflect that light, that love, into the lives of those around us, then I have to ask…
If following Jesus is crazy, am I crazy enough?
Some last thoughts…
In my last post for this blog, I highlighted a few quotes from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. I picked quotes that I felt didn’t get enough attention – quotes that challenge us to face uncomfortable truths and to grow in pursuit of justice.
One of those quotes that continues to stick with me came from Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you...
So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?"
(Letter from Birmingham Jail)
Loving our enemies definitely sounds crazy. But for those of us who love and worship a God who comes into our own brokenness, who suffered with us and for us… maybe we should steer into that crazy.