I once heard someone say that unbelievers will recognize Christ followers and be drawn to Him by our joy, kindness, goodness, and selflessness. In seasons of anxiety or depression or difficult situations, I’ve found myself confused and thinking there has to be more to it than that.
There have been times when embodying these trademarks of being a Christ follower felt like pulling myself up by my own bootstraps and scraping up the very last ounce of joy or kindness or goodness or selflessness I could possibly find within myself, or manufacturing it in a way that felt so wrong and inauthentic when I couldn’t find it. Many people who do not call themselves Christ followers seem to have all those traits and, oftentimes, represent them much better than me and my fellow believers.
In light of all that, what distinguishes us as Christ followers? How will people know we know Him?
The answer finally hit me.
It is not our joy or our kindness or goodness or selflessness that makes us who we are as Christ followers. Just the opposite — it is our brokenness. Our doubts, mistakes, insecurities, and shame.
How can we, who are so broken and imperfect and messy, possibly call ourselves Christ followers? THAT is the gospel. The good news. We are so broken and yet so wanted and accepted by Him.
It takes full admittance of how selfish and unkind and messed up we really are to see how much we really need God.
Knowing we can be fully broken and fully loved by Him is what distinguishes us.
When we truly believe, in our cores, how loved we are by Him in spite of every messy moment of our lives, then we let Him closer to us. The closer we let Him get to us, the more we are empowered to be joyful and kind and all the good things (because it’s Him, not us). His love changes us from the inside out.
But the good traits? They’re not the point. They’re the side effects of being close to Him.
The point is the brokenness.
There is no true love unless the one who loves has seen your brokenness in its fullness. He is love itself and can only offer true love, so the brokenness is an essential part of it all. A love like that is why we call ourselves His. A love like that is why we follow Him.
How will people know we follow Him and be drawn to Him?
In our brokenness, we heard of a love like this, offered free of conditions, and we couldn’t help but come running to the One who offered it.
Let us boast of our weakness, for it is our strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Let us be known by our brokenness.