Apart from the grace of Jesus, we are a collection profoundly weak, sad, and pathetic people. This is the grim reality of our plight and it comes as no surprise to me if you are shocked or offended by that remark. The same voice rising up in you is rising up in me saying, “No! I am not!” But, this is the reality that we hardly think about:
We Are Weak . . .
Apart from Jesus, we are weak. Physically, our bodies, though amazing, are extremely fragile and are constantly deteriorating. Beyond our obvious physical limitations, emotionally we are broken as well. We do not feel as we ought to feel - we often come undone over meaningless things and then are complacent regarding things that really matter. Mentally, we cannot focus as we want to, we tire from thinking, and sometimes we even think crazy thoughts that seem totally out of our control. Even spiritually, we know what is right, and as Romans 7 illustrates, we do the wrong that we don’t want to do and feel incapable of doing good. Apart from Jesus, we are hopelessly weak.
We Are Sad . . .
Apart from Jesus, we are sad. We all want to be happy all of the time. All of us long to feel joy that is deep, rich, and abiding. We are wired to want to laugh so hard bellies hurt. Yet, these things are not the reality for any of us. We all hurt. We hide our pain in different ways - with tears, with anger, or by self-deceit - but we all know the taste of failure, broken dreams, let-downs, abandonment, and heart break. We have occasional tastes of that happy and good life, but at the end of the day we cannot escape pain and hurt. Apart from Jesus, we are hopelessly sad.
We Are Pathetic . . .
Apart from Jesus, we are pathetic. Deep down, we feel the tendency in us to reject the first two points of our condition - that we are weak and sad. Instead we want to insist the opposite We want to think that we are invincible.. We pretend we have no flaws or weaknesses.We disguise our sadness and our hurt. We embellish the good-times and seldom address the darkness. We blind ourselves to the obvious and deceive ourselves in to thinking that we’ve done away with our problems. It is like we dance in the ballroom of the Titanic as it is sinking, all the while admiring the wateras it busts windows and rushes in. Apart from Jesus, we are pathetic.
The Tune-Changing Truth
But there is more. There is one, great, tune-changing truth about us if we are united to Jesus by faith. It’s thatwe are deeply and madly loved by God who is infinitely strong, happy, and glorious. In our weakness, He perfects His power in us and shows us that his grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12.9). In our sadness, He fills us with gladness only found in him. He gives us good gifts, but more than that He gives us Himself as He intimately cares for us and steadfastly loves us (Psalm 147.3; Isaiah 61.1). Lastly, pathetic as we are, he glorifies us. Jesus has prayed for us, Cities Church, that we would receive from the Father the glory that the Father has given him by making us one with him forever (John 17.22-23).
So there is our weakness, our sadness, and our pathetic state apart from Christ. And there is Jesus’s strength, Jesus’s joy, and Jesus’s glory — all of which we come to know by being united to him by faith. But only by being united to him, when we are humbled to admit our need. So this morning, people of Cities, let us confess our sinful pride that says “apart from Jesus I can be strong and happy” and cry out to him in recognition that he alone can give us the satisfaction we ultimately desire.
Prayer of Confession
Father, we are a thirsty people. We have many times dug holes in the desert sand looking for water and have arrogantly refused You who have freely offered for us to come and drink from Your fountainof Living Water without money and without cost. We all have denied our fallenness, our weakness, and our sadness in further rebellion and refusal to bend our knees to You. Now, this morning, Father, many of us are famished and we need You to mercifully let us drink of Christ who satisfies our every thirst. So, would you please call us back to Yourself. Would you reveal to us the sin of our self-sufficiency and pride that subtly says we don’t need you? God, we know that if we in your church do not confess and if we harbor secret sin in our hearts, our prayers areineffective and hypocritical, so by your Spirit help us now as we confess our sin in private before you. . . .