“Pray humbly to the Lord, that He may give you the spirit of contrition.”
— Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471)
The state of feeling sorry for bad behaviour. That is contrition’s definition. And such is the grace of God that we are palpably forgiven! But only as we reach the state of feeling sorry for our bad behaviour – both that which is inherent and our actual acts of wrong – are we blessed of God – and we owe to our contrition, brokenness.
We were not broken because God didn’t care. We were broken to be shown the way to our need. If we ever lose sight of our brokenness we lose the way to contrition, and the Lord’s Spirit may just fly away from practical experience. Could there be a worse outcome in the whole of life?
So now we may readily see that to our brokenness we can attach praise. We are afforded the insight of knowing the truth that gives life; we, by our state and condition, are hopelessly far from God. Yet, we so need to be very near.
We cannot come near if we are strong in our own strength.
We come near to God by being strong only about our brokenness.
Strength is a falsity; it leads us far from God and keeps us afar. With strength we have a constant frustration deep in our unconscious. We cannot experience favour, given that favour is given when we own up to the fact we cannot gain what we need, yet it is freely given.
To experience God’s favour in the core of our being, to recognise our need of it, and to humbly submit contritely, owning our sin – not bothering as much about others’ sin; that is the raw, undiluted Christian experience that is so rarely experienced today.
As Jesus himself was broken, we too are found broken as we come near to God.
Christianity is centrally about relationship, which is a personal and volitional accountability to God, alone. To look inwards at our own sordid hearts, and to remain there contritely, that is to know God. So few, it seems, do it. But you can and you should. I know blessing is only as far as contrition away. To own my own fault is the magnanimity of the Lord – forgiven, without condition, for all my wrongdoing, both potential and real, in the past, present, and future.
God has turned the world upside down. Power is useless in the Kingdom unless others are empowered through faith, hope, and love. The way to the favour of God is through contrition – to be genuinely truthful about our sin and our need of God. And brokenness is blessed because it takes us to the heart of contrition, where, only there, can God mould us in the form of his Son.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.