Go to church. Sit in the pews. Sing some great songs. Listen to the preacher. Give a nod and an “Amen!” Shake a few hands. Book a table for lunch. Go home. Do it all again next week. What could be missing? It’s hard to spot, and easy to forget. It’s so important that if it is missing from your life, and you do not soon catch it, then you do not know the true desire of God’s heart.
Charles Spurgeon spoke these words one Sunday morning from his Metropolitan Tabernacle pulpit:
“I can assure you that the greatest joy I have ever known has not been when I have laughed, but when I have cried. The most intense happiness I have ever felt has not been when I have been exhilarated and full of spirits, but when I have leaned very low on the bosom of God and felt it so sweet to be so low that one could scarcely be lower and yet did not wish to be any higher.”
Spurgeon’s text was Psalm 51, with a specific focus on these words. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Can you ask a new convert to be broken? You may ask him to repent, but until he learns to continually look to Christ, he will not be broken. David was not meeting God for the first time here. He met Him long ago, but came this day in brokenness. As David reflected on God’s many mercies towards Him, the depth of his transgressions, the pain it had caused, and the cleansing he received, his heart became broken within him, and God received it. Had he come in arrogance, feeling entitled to his position as God’s child, we would have totally a different Psalm altogether.
Many live today feeling entitled in their relationship with Christ. Sure, most will admit that salvation comes through Christ, and His brokenness on the cross, but how often does it translate to his followers living in brokenness too? Where is the man or woman who is more concerned with holiness, and walking worthy of God, than he is with wealth, health, and or social status? The heart which God does not despise, is the heart that confesses needs, confesses emptiness, and looks to God alone to fill it.
To paraphrase Spurgeon, he told his congregants that day, that the greatest joys of his life were in the times when life had beaten him down, and his only solace was in the bosom of God. So low in spirit, but so close to the Comforter. So happy there, that no desire of man’s glory, or fame, or pretense ever crossed his mind.
So what’s the very thing God desires from us that we so often withhold from him? It’s brokenness. It’s true brokenness and transparency before a gracious God. It’s the kind of brokenness that tells others “I am struggling.” “I need to be closer to God.” “I’m in need of cleansing.”
It’s sacrifice. Not just the kind when someone goes to church instead of staying in bed. It’s not just when you stay later at Church, instead of rushing home for a football game. We’re talking about an inner place of brokenness and contrition that is born from an examination of God’s abundant mercy. We’re talking about you and me offering real sacrifice to God, coming in humility to the only one who fills abundantly.
So the next time you enter the church to fellowship with God’s people, go with a sacrifice of brokenness. Let your heart be completely open, bearing the scars of the world, but revealing the grace of Christ within you. This is not a subject for boasting, but people do need to see it in us, not only in church, but everywhere we go.