Address The Mess Part 1: The Mess In The Mirror
On Sunday 1st January at our morning service,we started our new series 'Address The Mess' with the topic 'The Mess In The Mirror'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
One of the things that we all have in common is that at one time or another we have probably felt that an aspect of our lives is a mess.
Whether we’re Christians or not, we've all made some messes and thought: “My life is a mess.” We may have made a mess in our work, relationships, or our habits. Mess as parents, singles, or pensioners, being a physical emotional or spiritual mess – maybe a financial mess. Many of our parents were messes, their parents were messes and your children’s parents were probably messes as well, maybe even your children. Regardless of our differences we share this common ground – we all have messes of life to deal with.
The lens we see this truth can be life-changing or it can lead to a messy and endless cycle of blame, shame, hurt and unforgiveness.
You may be between messes at the moment, but you have had them in the past and they may come in the future. Our mess can be the lens that helps us to see God.
We all have experienced messes in our lives so we shouldn’t criticise others. Instead of criticising each other we should stand beside each other. It is so easy to look at others and judge. But none of us is perfect.
We can all identify faults in others; but they have experienced messes we are unaware of. How can we understand why they do or say what they do, unless you know the mess that they are facing? We should be careful before we become judgemental or critical. We should look in the mirror before we judge.
In Matthew Chapter 7, verse 5 Jesus says this:You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.You can read this by clicking here.
This is a great metaphor. We have a great chunk of wood in our eye so how can we see clearly. Our view of others is distorted by our own messes.
When we feel bad about ourselves, criticising the fault in others can make us feel better. Often the things that we criticise are the things that we don’t like about ourselves. It is easier to judge others than to face and deal with our own faults. Don’t get drawn into the easy work of criticism. The reality is that the only person that we have the power to change is ourselves. Sometimes only with the strength that God give us and often with others to help us through our messes. We need each other – it’s rare for people to be able to clean up their messes by themselves. Imagine if we, the church, got this right! And Instead of criticising each other we stood beside each other.
The Bible tells us quite clearly that we are all in the same boat.
In Romans Chapter 3 verses 19 to 20 and verse 23, we read Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, You can read this by clicking here.
Another translation sums it up by saying;
“… it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else?
This can sound very depressing, but if Instead of criticising each other, we stand beside each other. Then it can draw us closer to each other and closer to God. The realisation of imperfection enables us to realise that there is perfection. Yes we mess up, but if we admit the mess then we can and will be forgiven. God’s grace-filled solution to the human mess is Jesus. He wants to deal with our mess. Grace is like a free pass.
The messiness of the world and our lives is a lens through which we can see God. He reveals himself in and through the mess if we look for him. The reality is, that when we are in the mess, it is difficult to see God. We need to get into a good relationship with God when things are okay.
We all say “Nobody’s perfect” but that acknowledges that there is such a thing as perfect. So what does perfect look like? No-one matches up to it.
We all have a theory or a law or a morality from where this “perfect” originates. Christians say it is God. We recognise a mess when we see one because we have a reference point for un-mess. Our awareness of our messes makes us aware we are accountable to someone.
We are accountable to the person or standard we believe in. Our knowledge of it just reminds us we are a mess rather than making us better. We all fall short – you’re a mess, I’m a mess – we should be silent about other people’s imperfections; we have enough of our own.
Instead of criticising each other we should stand beside each other.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
“first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Do you find it easier to see your own mess and try to deal with it or criticise others and see how they should sort themselves out? Why do you think that is?
1. Are there “specks” that are distorting your vision of others that need to be removed?
2. Looking back are there times when you have criticised someone else and later seen something that may have contributed to their attitudes or actions that help you to understand them and see them differently?
3. Have you ever been surprised by how another person sees you? If so think of examples that have made you rethink your perception of yourself.
4. What are your own imperfections? What are the experiences that you have had that have made you like this?
5. Do you find it easier to criticise or stand beside? Why is that?
6. Are you happy to ask other people for feedback on what it is like to be on the other side of you? If not why is that?
7. When you feel that you are in a mess do you find it easy or hard to see God in the mess? Why is this?
8. What are the things that you can put in place now to help you to see God in the messes of life and have people ready to stand beside you?