The portion of this feature on Lauren Winner that jumps out at me is this:

“In Christianity there’s this script of, you do the right things and you will not come to that place of despair, and something is wrong with you if you do,” she said. “I didn’t feel I had an abundance of preparation for hitting that experience.”

What she describes in the first sentence is not Christianity, of course, but what passes for it in many churches and faith communities today. Do x, y, and z and no harm will come to you. This is what most of the idiots on television preach. But it is also there, mostly between the lines but often not, in the way many evangelical churches teach the Scriptures. Call it moralistic therapeutic deism, call it self-help religion, call it legalism, call it whatever you want, but don’t call it Christianity.

What Winner says in that second sentence — “I didn’t feel I had an abundance of preparation for hitting that experience.” — speaks to the utter importance of gospel-centered preaching, teaching, discipleship, counseling, community fellowship, and on and on. I didn’t have preparation for hitting the experience of despair either. I had a lot of helpful hints and tips, a treasure trove of weekly seven steps to this or that, and an abundance of Christian resources. But nothing “works” like hearing and knowing and trusting that nothing could separate me from the love of God and nothing could invalidate the approval I have from him in Christ Jesus.

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6 thoughts on “Adequate Preparation for Brokenness”

  1. Robert Smith says:

    Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV)

    For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
    The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

    In fact, we must come to that place of despair to realize our need for Christ.

  2. Thom Cole says:

    “This is what most of the idiots on television preach.” Such strong words, yet, I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

  3. Hitting that same wall and learning that lesson (and continuing to do so) has been one of the hardest things in my life. I am thankful that I can rest in the gospel and the knowledge that nothing I can do can make God love me more or less than he already does.

  4. Jordan says:

    amen.

    i’ll be honest though, the portion that jumped out at me was:

    “Lauren Winner… a Jew who found Christianity in a dream starring Daniel Day Lewis as Jesus…”

    that is amazing.

  5. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Mixed feelings.

    Not crazy that she’s a priestess, sad that she’s divorced, and as an aside, not too impressed with Duke Divinity School either.

    But other than that, I hope she bounces back.

  6. Amen! I have been “plowing” in the fields of brokenness, studying the contours of the gospel in the book of Ruth as I prepare to lead women who asked me to speak on “Gospel-Living in Broken Stories.” As always, of course, God has shown me so much about his character and his powerful redeeming love during my preparation. Your reminder make me think how wise these women are to delve into a topic that might postpone until they’re in the middle of it.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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