Broke(n) and Restored

The Japanese kintsugi cultural tradition is a wonderfully pure example of what a life in Christ is like.

The art of kintsugi is practiced by only the most skilled artists in Japan. These artists spend years studying the art of pottery. They give each jar special grooves, designs, and nicks that result in a perfectly crafted piece with an absolutely vulnerable, breakable, lovely form. Each of these jars could run up to $1,000 American dollars—one pretty penny!

Clay jars made this way are lovely. To even look at one can leave you speechless. You would think that this creation could not be any more beautiful, but you would be wrong. See, the beautiful Japanese art of kintsugi cannot be done to these impeccable, perfectly grooved jars—yet. In kintsugi, these $1,000 jars are not finished until one singular thing happens.

They break.

We don’t need more of a reminder of the truth that we live in a broken world. With current events overwhelming us, national disasters bombarding us, and despair at an all-time high, it is easy to see that we humans do not have it all figured out. I myself have been left broken by the effects of the sin in our world and communities. The brokenness has become nearly overwhelming.

But what does God have to say about brokenness? In 2 Corinthians 4:7–9, we read this:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

We are never too broken for God to come in and do His restoration work. He Himself was broken on the cross so that we, mere jars of clay, could be reconciled to Him. This world gives us many troubles and trials, yet He helps us persevere through them all! The world may crush us, perplex us, drive us into sadness, persecute us, even forsake us—but because of His death on the cross, we are healed and restored!

And how do we know this promise to be true? Well, because he said so! For instance, 1 Peter 3:21 says this:

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So what happens to these beautiful, expensive, elegant jars after they are broken? Then the art continues. 

Someone picks up all the pieces and takes them to a master craftsman. The craftsman painstakingly brushes the edges of all the pieces with layers of lacquer and gold dust, repairing each and every crack, each and every fracture, each and every broken piece that the jar became. Each and every piece is glued back together in this way. And then this $1,000 work of art becomes something of unlimited value. It becomes a priceless work of art and beauty that shows BROKENESS as FULLNESS.

And so it is with us as the Creator pieces back together the broken pieces of our life. You and I are fractured, we are broken, we are smashed to smithereens. But Jesus takes His hands, His HOLY and HOLEY hands, and glues us back together, piece by piece, with His blood, which is much more precious than gold. Our fragile broken selves get glued together with the righteousness of Christ.

So, my broke(n) friend, you are worth far more than you ever thought. You are worth far more than anyone ever told you that you were. You are worth far more than you could ever have imagined! Because the Christ who is within you is valuable, and when He restores you, when He raises you up on that Last Day, when He takes you home—then you realize that you are like kintsugi art—you are sealed with a promise by your Savior.

YOU. ARE. BROKE(n) … but you are also HIS.

Being born into a sinful world means that you are broken, but you can be restored. Dive into a study about how Christ can help heal you and put you back together. 

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Picture of Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling
Rev. Dr. Gerard Bolling is an LCMS pastor and Lutheran university educator. Dr. Bolling holds a BA in theatre from Concordia University Chicago, an MDiv from Concordia Seminary, and a doctor of education (EdD) degree from Concordia University Wisconsin in leadership, innovation, and continuous improvement. His dissertation was focused on human resource development in under-resourced urban ministry structures of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (How LCMS Pastors Are Developed through Mentorship). Dr. Bolling currently serves in a dual call as pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and as assistant professor of leadership and theology in the online modality and coordinator of multicultural engagement at Concordia University Texas. His passion for urban ministry, education, leadership, nonprofit management, mentorship, diversity/equity/inclusion, and distance learning are all married in this dual call as he serves the saints of Bethlehem and the students of Concordia University Texas simultaneously. Dr. Bolling has also spoken at numerous conferences, on podcasts, and at churches, schools, and events within our church body, reflecting the love of Christ and prodding deeper conversations about deaf, urban, and cross-cultural inclusive ministry. He has taught in half the schools of the Concordia University System, thoroughly realizing the depth of knowledge our Concordia schools have to offer to the world they engage. Dr. Bolling has been married to his beautiful and talented wife, Lorenda, for six years. Lorenda serves as a preschool teacher at Word of Life Lutheran School. Together, they have a four-year-old son named Lincoln and a two-year-old daughter named Monroe. Both children were born in different years but on the exact date—October 5! They currently reside on the south side of St. Louis, Missouri.

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