I have this, what for me is, odd thought rolling around in my head.
We are called to believe in God.
But what if God believes in us?
Obviously I am not using the word “believe” in the same way in those two sentences. We believe in God for life and salvation and all that is good. We believe in God because it is right for humanity to acknowledge our Creator. God doesn’t receive life or salvation or all that is good from us. We’re not on the same level.
But what if God believes in us in the sense that God thinks, God knows, that we can do things that we don’t think or know we can do?
I’ve been studying Ephesians with a small group of women on Thursday mornings. My first tangible act of service as an associate pastor in a new congregation. Tomorrow we’ll open up the fourth chapter and see what the ancient apostle has to say to us. I imagine Paul with pen in hand, unable to stop interrupting his own train of thought and constantly using run on sentences. He’s in jail, but somehow he’s bursting with energy and life. (Not that he doesn’t have depressed moments, because he’s human). He wants his readers to know and to live the truth.
Knowing isn’t enough.
He himself granted that some are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…
– Ephesians 4:11-12 (NRSV)
Paul shifts here from the pure theology of the first half of his letter – a theology that can only be characterized as highly Christological – and into the practical theology of the second half. I’ve told what you is true, what it is that you ought to believe. Now let’s talk about how that is supposed to impact your life. Intellectual assent to the existence of God or the work of Christ in his life, death, and resurrection is not enough. Possessing a ticket to Heaven is not enough. If you believe in God as revealed in Christ, then that is to shape how you live.
And as he begins discussing that, Paul reveals that God believes in us.
This might not be news to you. I’m a simple theologian, so just hang in here with me.
The list of roles or offices above is not exhaustive. There are as many ways to love God and others through acts of service as you can imagine, all of them empowered by the Holy Spirit. Acts 9:36-42 tells us of a woman named Dorcas (aka Tabitha), who was very important to her community. Why was she important? She was charitable. She made clothes for people. That matters. Hear that today. You may not ever preach a sermon or be a missionary in a foreign land or lead a class. Your talents might be in making soup for a sick person – that matters. God blesses that.
Whatever you do as a response of loving obedience to the God who loves you – that’s holy work.
Holy work that God believes you can do.
Again, I’m a simple theologian. My mind is, as they say, blown by this.
On Friday, April 28, at 4:30 p.m. Central Time, I will stand behind a pulpit in the chapel at Nazarene Theological Seminary and preach the graduation sermon. When I submitted a manuscript and video back in January, I did not anticipate being named a finalist, and I certainly didn’t expect to be chosen as the winner of the Corlett Prize. I submitted my sermon solely as an act of bravery. I would have been content to listen to any of my classmates preach.
God believes in me. God says that I can do this, because this is what God wants me to do.
That’s wild. It just is.
That puts the opinions of other humans into perspective. By that I don’t mean that the voices of my brothers and sisters don’t matter, because they do. I don’t know everything and I am far from flawless. I need other people to tell me when I’m getting it wrong or when they see me making progress in a healthy direction.
But as far as my identity goes…as far as what is really real about me…God defines that.
Maybe I’m just writing to myself today. I suspect not, though. There are a what seems like a million voices shouting at us every day. Too fat, too thin, too much, too little, too tan, too pale, too rich, too poor, too educated, too stupid…the list is endless. We never can find that “enough” space.
We don’t have to.
Because God believes in us.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. Praise God, all creatures here below. Praise God, above you heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
GRACE AND PEACE ALONG THE WAY,
Image Courtesy of Jasmin Ne