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If there is one verse in the entire Bible that speaks volumes of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit or to experience the fullness of the Lord and have His rivers of living water flow out of us unhindered, it is Galatians 2:20—
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
It’s a familiar verse to many of us. But please, take a moment to pause and think about what it is saying.
This “I,” this “me” who is so important, has “ . . .been crucified, it’s no longer I who live . . .”
Someone once said, “There is a cross and there is a throne in all our lives. If ‘I’ is on the throne, then Christ is on the cross. If Christ is on the throne, then ‘I’ is on the cross.”
The measure in which we will allow the cross to operate in our lives, to bring death to our own selfish ambitions, our ways, our rights, our reputation, our interests, in the same measure only will Christ manifest His life through us.
Jesus talked about this in John 12:24–25, “I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Jesus’ contemporary, Eusebius, records the account of a king from a small kingdom who, after hearing of the Jewish leaders’ plot to kill Jesus, sent a few of his men to deliver a letter to Him inviting Him to live in their kingdom. The contents of the letter deliv- The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness 46 ered were something like, “We understand the Jews are plotting to kill You. Having learned much about You, I believe You are a good man and teacher. Please come and be part of my kingdom and rule with me. We will take care of You.”
John 12:20–21 (NIV) mirrors this account: “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came . . . with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’”
According to Eusebius, the answer Jesus gave to their request was very similar to John 12:24–25. In essence, what Jesus said was, “You want to see Me? If you really want to see Me, you must die. Only through death will you find Me.”
Jesus’ answer is the same today. If we want to see Him and have His beauty and love seen in us, we must die. We must be that grain of wheat that falls to the ground, broken and crushed, to see greater life produced.
But oh how you and I try so hard, even in Christian service, to preserve our own lives, even when Jesus clearly said that if we hold on to our lives we would lose them. We will remain as we are. Fifty years we can live and study the Bible and become an expert, and still, we will not see Him.
On the pages of the Bible, you will see Jesus—the One who dwells in such light that when you gaze upon His face you change without trying. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” That transformation, that change can only take place when our hearts are pure. In one of Jesus’ first sermons He told the crowd that had gathered, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
But what does it mean to be pure in heart?
A pure heart has no soulish life in it, no selfish ambition for itself because that “I” has been crucified. With the pure heart, there is no hindrance from Christ within coming forth because there is no contamination from the self-life.
Over my years of ministering, the Lord has had to rebuke me several times after speaking and teaching from His Word. I repent over those times. Even though my speech was absolutely eloquent and people were moved by the words I shared, when it was all over, very quietly the Lord would say to me, “You failed Me miserably.”
“It was all contaminated. You spoke truth, but it was all mixed up with your soulish life. A bit of dirt makes all the water impure. People were deeply moved emotionally and intellectually, but no life can come out of it.”
In Matthew 11:29–30, we read one of the most beautiful Scripture portions ever recorded. It is the invitation of Christ— “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
When Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you . . .” we must realize that only a broken animal will bend its neck and take the yoke.
For example, I grew up in a place where my people are rice farmers, and we didn’t have machinery then or now to plow the fields. You know how we do it? We use two buffaloes.
I remember as a small boy, looking at the fields where they would be used to plow. Year after year, hundreds of times, I saw the same scene—the buffaloes standing there, not making a single noise. They would never run away. They just stood there. And right there in the field beside them would be a skinny, little man with hardly any clothes on and a tiny stick in his hand. The buffalo would bend its neck as the yoke was brought—there was no fight, no resistance, no squabble, nothing. The buffalo simply yielded its rights.
But then, if you were to look closely, you would see two or three deep scars on the rear of the buffalo. Those scars were made at the time the animal was broken, when it was trained. These buffaloes are strongwilled creatures. With their massive and strong horns, they are capable of killing a man with a single toss of the head. But now they are different. They are broken.
Every servant of God must go through a similar process. Paul speaks of bearing on his body “the marks of the Lord Jesus” (see Galatians 6:17). Christ was broken on the cross. The whiplashes on His back, the thorn piercing on His head, the nail holes in His hands and feet are His brand marks. They speak forever of the humility He chose to walk in on this earth.
Again, we must hear the invitation of Christ—“Come, yield your rights, let go of your own will and take My yoke. It is easy. It is light. Come, learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly, and you will find rest for your soul.”
What from His life are we to come and learn from?
Consider the way Psalm 22:6 (NIV) speaks of Christ: “But I am a worm and not a man.” It’s talking about Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world, what He must say about Himself. He was bruised and broken that no one should desire Him, no one should have any attraction toward Him. He was despised and forsaken. Like a sheep that is silent before the shearer, He did not open His mouth in protest to the cruelty He received from the ones He came to save. He simply submitted and chose to be broken (see Isaiah 53).
And we, too, must choose to be broken. Philippians 2:5–8 tells us,
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Someone can be filled with the Holy Spirit, baptized in the Holy Spirit, stand on his head or whatever, yet still turn around and be as carnal, hard and devilish in his attitude and actions toward others.
Why? Because being gentle, soft and Christlike never comes through the gifts of the Holy Spirit or by being filled with the Holy Spirit. It comes only through the cross and our choice to embrace brokenness, just as Jesus did. Jesus said, “This is My body which is broken for you” (1 Corinthians 11:24). He chose brokenness. He chose to embrace the cross. He didn’t say to Peter or John, “This is My body. Take it and break it.” He didn’t say, “This is My body that the Father broke into pieces for you.” No. He is the One who humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be broken.
I want to offer this humble suggestion: Do not look for some external, supernatural event to change you or the situations of your life. Let the Lord show you the corruption in your own heart and be willing to go to the cross by humbling yourself. Be willing to be broken again and again and again and again. This is the only way to have life. As long as you hold onto it, you will lose it. But once you choose to be broken, you will experience the life of Christ in all its fullness.
Oftentimes when I counsel people, I sense this is what the Lord is trying to accomplish through the situations they are dealing with. I listen as they tell me of the heartache, pain and frustrations they live with. But most important I listen to what is not being said with words. In the end, my response is often the same—“Brother, it’s not what happened to you. It’s not what the person said or this and that. It’s how you responded to it. I sense tension. I sense restlessness. I sense you want to be vindicated. I sense the agony in you, the pain in you, like you are locked up in a prison. Your problem is not out there; the problem is here, in your own heart.”
Every time you are discouraged, every time you want to give up, every time you are in conflict with someone, every time there is no peace in your heart, you are troubled and distressed, there is restlessness and all those things, you must understand—the Lord is trying to bring you to the place of brokenness. We become frustrated and upset over our circumstances because we have yet to truly experience what it means to just give up, to become like Christ, like a worm, and totally give up our rights. The cross of Christ continues to work, but you are resisting it.
The way of peace, the way to have a striveless life out of which rivers of living water flow, only comes through our being broken.