Mother, I am afraid I have bad news. Mus and Verena have had a terrible accident and are in a hospital in Germany. We’ve put in a call to the hospital and we’ll soon have more details.” Details included the facts that the car had skidded on an icy spot in a lonely area, and that Verena, finding that Mus was scarcely breathing, had amazingly extricated herself from the wreck and had run through the woods to find help. After telling what had happened and giving directions, she collapsed with her injury—a broken back. In the hospital it was discovered that Mus had broken six ribs and had punctured a lung so badly that the blood needed to be drained from that lung, which collapsed. Both of them had concussions, too.

Perfectly whole one minute, horribly broken the next. What an intensity of longing on the part of loved ones to put the broken parts back together again and take away the pain. Broken bodies, broken dreams.

When our Susan was twelve, she stayed for some weeks with dear friends of ours whose home was filled with very lovely art objects. One morning as Sue sat on a couch in the living room waiting for breakfast, she exuberantly stretched out her arms with pure joie de vivre. The joy was short-lived. One hand hit a priceless Ming vase, and the vase was knocked over and shattered. One moment in perfect condition, perfectly preserved for centuries; a second later, smashed.

As I am waiting for more news of Mus and Verena, my mind is filled with many thoughts of brokenness and wholeness. Broken relationships are more painful and serious than broken possessions or bodies. Our child’s breaking something as irreplaceable as a Ming vase could have broken the close relationship we had with its owners, but that didn’t happen. These people understood the real values in life. The awareness of the high cost of a broken relationship is an important thing to have. Lack of understanding in this area leads to brokenness, an internal injury to our very beings.

The very first broken relationship was the break that came between human beings and God, as Adam and Eve made a choice that showed, among other things, an insensitivity to the importance of that relationship. The expected “gain” that filled their thoughts as they believed Satan’s promise about their eating the fruit was one they suddenly valued above their relationship with God. The shattering of this relationship led to further brokenness, in their relations with each other, and then inside themselves as they became the first of the long, long line of “broken people.” Broken personalities, broken relationships, broken understanding, broken purposes, broken incentives, broken courage.

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The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.… Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.… If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:23–31).

Human attempts to mend a variety of kinds of brokenness fall far short even in the area of individual wholeness, let alone perfect oneness between two people, or among a group, or with God. God himself has made it clear that he had no way of mending the broken relationship between him and us except to be broken for us. Jesus the Son of God was willing to have his body broken on the cross—a terrible price to pay for our wholeness. However, he also went through a broken relationship with his Father as he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” All this he endured so that we could come into an eternal relationship as children of his Father and joint heirs with him—so that we could be mended.

The fact is earth-shaking, universe-shaking, and as we eat the broken bread in remembrance of all this, we are meant to be aware of the wonder of what he has suffered for us, and to consider seriously what sins or hindrances need to be confessed. The broken relationship is mended when we accept Christ’s brokenness for us, and we can communicate with the Father continually, even to the point of confessing our fresh sins.

There is mending taking place in our other areas of brokenness—emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical—but we will not be perfect until Jesus comes back again. “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.… If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.… For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:17–22). The hope of perfect mending and complete wholeness is the resurrection.

How painful it was for Christ to be broken for us. But it is even more painful that his sacrifice is often disregarded by many of us who have accepted what he did. Our breaking, even temporarily, the relationship that cost Christ so much to repair should make us say “I’m sorry” even more fervently than we express sorrow over allowing things to break our human relationships. He is perfect; it is always we who are at fault when something comes between us and him.

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On the horizontal level we have been given strong directions about how not to have broken relationships: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Col. 3:12–15). This leaves little room for misunderstanding how we are meant to feel and act toward one another as fellow children of the heavenly Father.

Brokenness in the body, the Church, must hurt Him who was broken that we might become the body put together in oneness. “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). This is the One in whom we are “complete” (Col. 2:10). Pray that there may be more evidence of that completeness in us as individuals, and as “the body of Christ,” but also thank God that perfect victory will be evident throughout all eternity. His brokenness will fulfill its purpose; he really did nail to his cross the things that would be against us. Our brokenness will change to wholeness on that glorious day when he comes again.

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