The Mess in the Mirror


Here’s a phrase that’s been around for a while: Hot mess.

  • In the 1800s, a “hot mess” was a reference to food—especially food being served to soldiers (think “mess hall”).

  • In the 1900s, it was used to describe a dangerous or unpleasant situation in a military context: “Don’t shoot, or this entire situation may turn into a hot mess.”

  • In the 21st century, with the evolution of the term “hot,” a hot mess now refers to an “Attractive Disaster”: Someone whose life is in obvious disarray but who somehow remains functional and attractive in spite of it.

What Mess?

The thing we all have common — whether your religious or not, Christian or not — life is just messy. Sometimes because we create the mess. Other times we inherit a mess. But the truth is, life is messy.

We are genetically engineered toward messes.

  • Our parents were messes.

  • Their parents were messes.

  • Your children’s parents are messes…

The mess is our common ground.

It’s the mess that brings us together.
This is why we should be careful when we are tempted to criticize.

Matthew 7:5 NIV - You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Yank the Plank.

Matthew 7:2 NLT - For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

Our mess is also why we need one another. It’s rare to meet people who were able to clean up their messes all by themselves.

The Mess that brings us together (the thing we all have in common) is the mess that brought God near.

Jesus entered a new word into the world’s understanding of God, “Grace.” No one expected, no one saw it coming, and most people missed it.

Romans 5:6–8 NLT - 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God wasn’t try to avoid your mess. He came near to deal with our mess.

>>> Recognizing the mess is a baby step away from acknowledging God. To recognize one is to acknowledge the other.

ROMANS 3:19-20 NLT - 19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

Romans 3:23 NLT - For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

So who is under the law? Those who place themselves under it.

  • We also believe there is a universal law written in the hearts of all people; there are some “oughts.”

Then all of us—religious or not—say the strangest thing, because we all fall short.

We say: “But nobody’s perfect.”

  • Yet, when you say this—that nobody’s perfect—you’re acknowledging that there is a perfect out there that nobody is.

  • We are all guilty. None of us are perfect.

  • The point is that when I am tempted to be critical of you, I would be silenced, because I am without excuse. I’m a mess too.

The law doesn’t/can’t make you a better person. It’s purpose is to remind you that you’re a mess.

  • The question we all have to answer is: To who? To what?

  • What does the law that you’re under remind you that you’re not?

The Law is a mirror and a reminder.

  • Everyone is silenced because we are all without excuse. We all ultimately fall short of God’s glorious standard.

It’s the awareness of our messes that awakens us to something outside of us to which we are accountable.

The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not. —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (p 25)

Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way and cannot really get rid of it. —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (p 18)

There is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behaviour, and yet quite definitely real—a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us. —C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (p 27)

There is an un-mess. No one's perfect because there is a perfect that no one is. And it is the pathway, it's the portal, it's the channel, it's the window, it's the lens to begin to understand the presence, the power of your Heavenly Father.

The Mess in the Mirror

I know a mess when I see one, because I am one.

The reason I even know that's a mess is because I'm aware of an un-mess. And the fact that I recognize there's such a thing as an un-mess is a reminder that I am a mess. And it’s the mess that brings us together today.

God Dealt with Your Mess

Romans 3:21–22 NLT - 21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.


Whether we’re religious or not, we’ve all been in, are in, or are only one decision away from a mess. But there’s a powerful connection between your messes and your relationship with God.