Jesus Is a One Man Wrecking Crew of Destruction

March 23, 2012

What's the shortest verse in the Bible? Jesus wrecked.

I don’t know when Jesus became the demolition man.

But there he is, apparently with a jackhammer or a wrecking ball, or maybe just his bare fists.

Just Google any version of the phrase “Jesus wrecked me.”  You’ll turn up thousands of results.  People testifying that Jesus is a one man wrecking crew.  He’s wrecking people, wrecking lives, wrecking careers, wrecking cars.  He’s basically a tornado and a tsunami and a wolverine of destruction.

I know, it’s just a phrase that’s gotten really popular to illustrate to others how much you love Jesus.  It’s up there on the cool scale with words like “vulnerable” and “authentic.”  It’s now officially uncool to talk about being “saved” by Jesus.  People know you’re really serious if you’ve been “wrecked” by Jesus.  And God help you if you aren’t a “vulnerable” or “authentic” Christian.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with using these words.  But maybe if you’re in the habit of describing yourself this way: “wrecked” or “vulnerable,” maybe you’ve forgotten a thing or two about the Jesus who “wrecks” you.

Wrecking, Renovating and Restoring

I don’t know what people mean by Jesus “wrecking” them.  I suppose if you’ve come face to face with your inadequacies and sins, you could say that you are “wrecked,” emotionally and spiritually.

But wrecking things wasn’t Jesus’ mission.  He never told his disciples he was here to wreck them.  Sure, some demolition had to take place.  But there’s so much more to it.

Why isn’t it popular to say that we’ve been “renovated” by Jesus?  It implies that some wrecking took place.  But Jesus didn’t come to make a mess and not clean up after himself.  He’s not a sleazy contractor who comes in with sledge hammers and then bolts after he gets the check, without finishing the job.  He came to rebuild, restore, reckon, renovate.  Lots of “R” words…not just to wreck.

Thou Shalt Not Be Vulnerable

The strange thing about “vulnerability,” and even “wrecking” is that they strike me as a somewhat feminine way to describe Christianity.  I could be wrong about that.  Don’t know.  But I think it’s a product of a time when we’re supposed to be “in touch” with our feelings.

When people talk about being “vulnerable,” with whom are we being vulnerable?  Maybe that’s what I don’t get.  Because Jesus just never told his disciples to go out into the world and act vulnerable.  They were already vulnerable.  When they were with Jesus, they were, well, the opposite of vulnerable.  Even a storm couldn’t sink their little boat.

God has a habit of sending his people out into danger, and he never tells them to act timid or vulnerable.  He tells them just the opposite, to be bold, unafraid, shrewd.  Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid of people who can only kill them.  That’s pretty much the opposite of our natural instincts.  It’s like we’ve forgotten that God’s spirit is one of boldness and power, not vulnerability and crying.

And somehow, for 2,000 years, men and women have found the strength to be martyred for their faith, not because they believed they were “wrecked” or “vulnerable,” but because they believed God made them powerful, strong, even immune to danger.

I Can Wreck Things Myself, Thank You, Jesus

Maybe it is because I am a guy, and sometimes I want more of a Chuck Norris Jesus than a milquetoast Jesus.  But “wrecked” and “vulnerable” don’t cut it for me.  Those words describe how we probably started as Christians, but they aren’t supposed to be what we grow into.

It’s like we are trading “strength” for weakness.  Maybe because we’re afraid of appearing boastful and arrogant.  Maybe because we hate the war-like illustrations of God’s armor and strength, and we prefer to appear peaceful.  Again, I don’t know why we’ve latched onto these words, but count them as two more that Christians say that aren’t in the Bible.

Maybe it comes down to this for me: I never had any trouble wrecking things, being weak, being vulnerable on my own accord.  I need a lot more help being bold, restored, and unafraid.

What do you think?  Is it time to drop these words?  Are we supposed to be more than wrecked and vulnerable?

24 responses to Jesus Is a One Man Wrecking Crew of Destruction

  1. Couple of things–

    1) I’m sure it wasn’t what you were driving at, but it’d be kinda nice (in general) to get away from even using “masculine” and “feminine” to describe anything except for, let’s say, German nouns.
    I’m technically “feminine” (last I checked), and it’s kinda tiresome to have my gender associated with being smashed up and wimpy. I wouldn’t necessarily say that “vulnerable” has a feminine association with it.

    2) Am I the only one that has “You Wreck Me” by Tom Petty & the Heatbreakers stuck in my head right now?

    3) I think the problem with the whole “wrecked by Jesus” thing is that it gets back to the whole “you can’t be saved without hitting rock bottom and having a really gut-wrenching conversion story” trope. There are tons of very good Christians out there who were never really all that “wrecked” to begin with.
    It kind of reminds me of “Forrest Gump”–Lt. Dan asks Forrest if he “found Jesus yet” and Forrest replies “I didn’t know He was lost.”

  2. Interesting, because I had always associated the word ‘wrecked’ as to do with drugs (or more recently) alcohol. Therefore to me when people say that it is saying that they are intoxicated or possibly filled with Jesus, interesting to think of it in your terms.

  3. The problem with these words for me is that they’re very me-centered. The same with the “sinner saved by grace” rhetoric, it really kind of takes the focus off of Christ. If I say, “Jesus wrecked my life”, you’ll want to know what’s happened to me in my life that would make me say that. Sure, some good Jesus stuff will work into my response, but a lot of it will just be about me. If I say, “The world wrecked my life, Jesus restored it,” I have a wide open door to share the Good News, forget the wreckage let’s just focus on the restoration.

    • Interesting take. Hadn’t thought of it that way. Its funny how the pendulum swings and causes unintended consequences. Maybe this is a result of the well intentioned emphasis on discipleship…?

      • Perhaps. I think it goes along with our obsession with “powerful testimonies”. We love a good juicy testimony about how God has pulled people out of the trenches and set their feet on high ground. I realized a while back that every time I shared my testimony I would have people coming and saying things like, “I wish I had a cool testimony, you have such a powerful story.” What they seem to be focusing on is how much I had overcome and how bad my life was before. Sure, my life should be very different today, but so should yours. It’s not the bad that makes my testimony awesome, it’s the goodness of God. Your story is just as powerful as mine. I’m tired of talking about how filthy and wretched and despicable we are, let’s shift the focus to how awesome and glorious and wonderful God is. Just my thoughts.

  4. I must be out of the mainstream, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard the “wrecked by Jesus” phrase. Vulnerability and authenticity, though, are another story.

    I’m with you. I mess things up enough on my own.

    I can see the reasoning behind the vulnerable and authentic tags, though. I think the church often (perhaps unwittingly) presents the aura that we’ve got it all together, that we have all the answers–and those words are an attempt to dispel that image. After all, we are told to be humble and to consider others better than ourselves. Perhaps that’s where those words come from.

    (As a side note, I’ve never really liked the word “saved”, either, as in “Is she saved?” It always sounded too Christian-y to me, and perhaps a bit on the arrogant side as well).

  5. First of all, I must confess that I have NEVER heard anyone say that they were “wrecked” by Jesus or for Jesus or through Jesus or any other preposition that is applicable. This is probably due to being a stay-at-home mom with kids ranging from elementary to pre-teens who have recently shed “Veggie Tales”.

    Secondly, I think you and I might have different connotations of the word “vulnerable.” I think that we, as Christians, leave ourselves vulnerable every time we proclaim the gospel–vulnerable to friends or family not wanting to have anything to do with us, vulnerable to hostility and critism, or, in some countries, death. Yes, we are being bold and courageous in our faith and we are gaining something that can never be taken away. But it also might mean losing something in our lives. I also believe that God wants us to be vulnerable to Him, which is what I think the Bible calls having a quiet and humble spirit or a heart of flesh. However, I don’t think we should be bragging about it because if we weren’t vulnerable, something would be wrong with our spiritual life.

    I really like your idea thinking that Jesus is renovating us rather than just wrecking us. It takes the focus off the pain of the wrecking and puts it on the joy of knowing that something beautiful will come out of it, which will hopefully stop us from whining.

    • I suspect that I and everyone have different interpretations of vulnerability. So I know my analysis won’t apply to everyone. For me personally, I wallow in vulnerability anyway. I need to get out of that and rest on God’s strength.

  6. I have heard this term more than a few times. It mostly describes passion for His presence. If I were to give it a biblical definition, I might use Issiah’s (v 6:5) word, “undone” (“ruined” in some translations). I also might give it Luke’s definition from Acts 2:23, “and some say that had too much wine.”

    I have experienced both.

    For me, I needed my life wrecked. For many years I always had my own idea of what I wanted in life and tried to get God to bless it. (A personal version of God bless America). Most of it was tied to self-centered and cultural pursuits. I chose jobs, girlfriends and made financial decision that I thought were best for me. Many times I was wrong.

    Somewhere well along the way I learned to hear God, and then it took a few years to be obedient to it. That is my preferred way of life.

    So yeah, Jesus wrecked my life according to the Bible, and I couldn’t be more joyful!

  7. When I hear the phrase “wrecked” by Jesus I think of Shane Claiborne at The Simple Way (http://www.thesimpleway.org/shane/).

    A lot of people have that “hit rock bottom and then Jesus saved me” testimony … but a lot of people don’t. Shane writes that he had everything going for him when he was young: prom king, grades, college picked out to get a great career and make lots of money. But then he started meeting Jesus in the pages of the Bible and realized that God and the World defined success differently.

    “Then I met Jesus, and He wrecked my life,” Shane writes. http://www.youthworker.com/youth-ministry-resources-ideas/youth-ministry/11552643/

    I love Shane’s description because I think it holds truth … for Shane.

    What resonated with me in the blog post is our covetous nature … what? she’s vulnerable? I want to be vulnerable too …. he’s wrecked? count me in …. postmodern? yeah, I can do that … and please don’t forget to be missional. It’s like we think Jesus hangs out with the cool crowd so we do everything we can to get in that clique.

  8. Great post! I especially like your point about Jesus’ admonition not to fear those who can “…only kill…” – in light of that small statement it’s easy to see how Paul could fearlessly state “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

    Thanks for the booster shot of boldness!

  9. This is a great post, but the part that really made it hard for me to read through the rest of it was your remark about those words being feminine, as if Christianity having a feminine quality is a bad thing. Jesus himself called the church His “Bride.” It doesn’t get much more feminine than that.

    I get your point about vulnerability in one respect. I do think that Christians have mistakenly used it as an antonym for arrogance. Vulnerability is a double-edged sword; it’s a way of being honest and humble, but it’s also a way to expose yourself to harm. I get why the latter is bothersome in terms of Christianity, why it portrays a sense of weakness. On the other hand, being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s necessary. And yes, it’s a trait that women can often be better at expressing than men, who are often better with traits and language like “strength” that evoke images of war and battle.

    As far as “wrecked” goes, I agree with you. It’s an eye-roller for me when people use it. Sort of the same way that “love on” and “do life with” can be a little to mushy for me, “wrecked” is exaggerative, and doesn’t tell the whole story.

    This is a great post, but I think you should be cautious about how you approach Christian-ese in terms of your gender associations with the language. It’s clear to me (and other people who have commented) that part of what you find troublesome about it has to do with your own attitudes toward gender relations, and that’s something you have to rectify within yourself.

  10. I really like this post. Anything that gets people to think about what He has done to (for) them, is a very good thing.

    We don’t use the term ‘wrecked’ in Lutheranism (at least not the brand that I am familiar with)…but we do use the words ‘put to death’. Jesus has ‘slain me’…and ‘raised me’. We get this directly from Romans 6.

    Sometimes during the prayers for those who are worship leaders before the service, someone will pray, “Lord, kill us…and raise us again.” That’s the two-edged sword of the Word. With one swipe it separates to the marrow…and with the other edge, it cauterizes and makes whole again.

    Great conversation!

    Blessings to you all…and thanks!

  11. I haven’t heard the terms much, but I still think it is time to drop them. Thanks for the post.

  12. Renovated is now going to be one of those new trendy words, just wait.

  13. “It’s like we are trading “strength” for weakness.” Exactly. And when we are weak, his strength is perfected in us.

    It all depends on where our courage and boldness come from.

  14. vul·ner·a·ble   [vuhl-ner-uh-buhl] Show IPA
    adjective
    1.
    capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
    2.
    open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.

    I greatly enjoyed this article, however, I’m not sure if we have the same understanding of why being vulnerable is a part of the Christian life. I relate honesty with vulnerability. Of course, God desires truth and honesty; for us to live more and more in the reality of who we are, without pretense. However, when we are honest and transparent in a relationship with another human, there is always the possibility that we will be “wounded or hurt,” because we cannot control who others will respond to us. However, it’s in this place of honesty and vulnerability, that we can be truly loved.

    I could say more, but this has gotten long. What do you think?

    • Well said. And I am well acquainted with the very real possibility, even the inevitability of being hurt by Christians or family or friends. You can’t be hurt if you are shut off emotionally. So in that sense, I suppose we are vulnerable. I think it goes back to the question – who are we vulnerable to? Are we vulnerable to other peoples’ attacks? Jesus told us not to be afraid of others who can hurt us. If we should be vulnerable with anyone – it’s God. We are told to fear Him. It seems God is far more able to make us feel vulnerable than any person. :)

  15. Thank you for calling this out.

    There is a balance between being “bold and courageous” and practicing the Beattitudes. However, I think some Christians have found a wishy-washy middle that’s just weak and wimpy.

  16. I personally can’t get with much Christianese either.