The word was made up by the founder of Operation Mobilisation (OM), George Verwer and refers to the ‘mess’ we often find in the church or in Christian organisations.
OM is an international Christian Missions movement and for the last 60 years, Verwer has seen the wonderful and the terrible, all done by people who claim to be ‘Christian’. As someone who’s worked closely with Christians from many different walks of life and from a wide variety of organisations and churches, he now uses the term to describe his own growing awareness of what appears to be some pretty ‘messy’ situations that many churches and Christian organisations find themselves in – hence the term, Messiology.
It’s disheartening to see behaviour by Christians that is blatantly not good, worse still, unbiblical. We’ve all heard the horror stories of pastors or leaders of Christian organisations who have committed adultery, or those who misuse funds, lie or manipulate the vulnerable, or those who grapple with an addiction to drugs, porn or alcohol.
What George Verwer has come to realise though is that God seems to use people in spite of their personal weaknesses and mess of their lives.
Although a minister may be living in sin or teaching wrong doctrine from the pulpit, somehow there are people who go to that church who make a genuine commitment to follow Jesus Christ and serve Him faithfully. In the same way a Christian organisation or charity may be unscrupulous in many of its dealings and yet, people’s lives are changed for the better because of their work.
How can this be?
The Apostle Paul dealt with this issue in the early church.
“It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance” – Philippians 1:15-19.
The Bible also says,
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” – Isaiah 55:8-9.
God’s perspective on people and situations is different to ours – God sees things outside of time and space and through the lens of eternity.
Although the Christian faith is based on the premise that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we should never use God’s grace as a reason to sin (1 Peter 2:16, Galatians 5:13, Romans 6:12).
One of my favourite authors, Max Lucado writes “The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word: grace”.
The more we know God through Jesus Christ, the more we become like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). We long to live a life of holiness, not in a legalistic way but with a genuine desire to please our heavenly Father. Then, instead of becoming disheartened at the ‘mess’ we see in church or Christian organisations, we will have His perspective on ourselves and on those around us. Only then can we trust that God will indeed bring something beautiful out of the mess.