Just Beneath the Brokenness.
I’ve had a difficult relationship with social media lately. As much as I want to see what my friends are up to, it seems like everyone is arguing or posting about the latest sad/baffling/revolting/divisive event. There is so much darkness, and even those who are trying to talk about the light do it in a way that doesn’t promote much hope. We tear down the false gods, we critique un-Christian behavior, and we forget to mention alternative ways of living. In the midst of our disapproval, disgust, and despair, we have forgotten we are the voice of hope.
Of course, it’s important to enter into discussions about what’s happening in our world. It’s important to call bad practices into the light where people can see them for what they are. Christians should be a voice demanding justice. Saying enough is enough. Condemning false representations of our faith.
But I just don’t think it’s enough to point out that which is broken. We also have to uncover the potential for restoration that lies just beneath the surface.
One of the beliefs I prioritize most in my own life is the belief that the bright side is better. That doesn’t mean I neglect what I notice lingering in the dark. It simply means I refuse to believe that the darkness is all there is. If the restoration promised in the Bible is something I truly believe in, then I have to live like I believe the bright side is real and waiting to be uncovered. Even if its presence is not immediately obvious.
Al of this came to mind as I was studying the genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew last week. At first glance, I’ll admit, it’s quite a boring text. There’s just no way to make 17 verses worth of names seem exciting. Not without a little background knowledge, that is.
I don’t have time to go into all of the details (and I’d much rather you discover them yourself instead of taking my word for it), but here’s a glimpse of what’s really happening in those 17 verses: Matthew is telling Israel how Jesus fits into their story. To begin with, he introduces Abraham – the man God began the nation of Israel through. From Abraham, Matthew lists 14 generations that lead us to David – Israel’s revered (though highly imperfect) king. And then with another 14 generations, Matthew leads us from David to the Babylonian exile – a time of great sorrow and anticipation for Israel all at once. 14 generations later, we reach Jesus.
There are things we could say about each person Matthew included in his list. We could talk about how the inclusion of women in a genealogy was unusual – to say the least – in his day. We could go on for days about the kind of Kingdom this list of people represents – one that welcomes outsiders, sinners, kings, prostitutes, misfits, and more. I could go on and on about the many things this genealogy tells us when we look for the message beneath the surface.
But ultimately, I think this introduction was meant to tell us one thing: there has always been so much more going on. Where you saw brokenness beyond repair, God was always preparing to fix it. All of these twists and turns in your story that you didn’t understand were always leading to Jesus. They were always leading up to this point in the story of Israel when everything would change. A new kingdom would come. The brokenness would begin to be mended.
Something more was always going on.
When Jesus was born, God did not merely add another male to the line of Abraham and David. The birth of Jesus was like God’s way of saying, “This is it. This is the beginning of what you’ve been waiting for. A new way of being human. A new way of seeing darkness. A new way of finding hope. I am not done with Israel; I am just getting started.”
This genealogy that used to be so boring to me now serves as a reminder that something more is going on.
As the world seems more divided than ever, as unbearable pain tears through the lives of countless people, as my list of questions grows each day while my list of answers shrinks…there has to be something more going on.
When the Israelites were in exile in Babylon, some thought God had left them and they gave up hope. Others clung to the promise that shalom – the restoration of the world to how it was supposed to be – was coming. They believed in something more than they could see at the time.
In a world that is full of brokenness, may we cling to the belief that something more is going on. That we can uncover healing if we look beneath the surface of the brokenness around us.