Sunday, July 26, 2009

God in Motion

If I were to go to a church today and heard a sermon about some supernatural occurrence, I almost wouldn't blink. Think about the things we believe almost without question...
Jesus walked across the water, defying the laws of gravity? I'll buy that.
Jesus made the dead come back to life? Sure, why not.
God divided the waters of the Red Sea and held a pursuing army at bay long enough for several hundred thousand people to walk across? I don't see why not.
God spoke through his word to predict events that we now see as historical fact? He's God! As if I doubt that.
At the word of Elijah, God withheld rain from the land for a period of years and as if by magic provided him and a widow's family with an unlimited supply of flour and oil? No problem.
Jesus was betrayed, tried , crucified, he died, was buried and then resurrected, bringing all who believe in him the gift of everlasting life? I serve a God who can do anything.

I'm not saying that these things aren't trustworthy and beyond belief. However, I think I need to examine what I mean when I say believe. I believe the accounts given to me in the Bible. I believe that one God rules over all of those events and is alive today. If it's so easy for me to believe that God has done all of those things, why is it so hard to trust God with the activities of my life today? I don't know why I gravitate toward a static God. Maybe the certainty and finality of all the things He has done makes me more comfortable. I really don't know, but I seem content to settle for a God that is powerful yet almost stationary. The fact is that God is alive and well and active on my behalf. Once the dust settles, I see where God's hand was at work and I rejoice at His faithfulness. Where was all of the faith when God was in motion? God has never given me a reason to do anything but trust him and the minute uncertainty comes, I crumble into a heap of "what if"s and "where is God"s. I need to trade in my static god for the God in motion, the God who is at work even in my failings.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Over the last several weeks, I've had some opportunities to be around different groups of people. The biggest events were the church build in South Dakota and being a counselor at youth camp. What really struck me was the wide range of people in both of these settings. What was even more noticeable was that the differences didn't seem to matter. Both events needed to accomplish a goal and in both places some of the people were experts in accomplishing our goal. In SD we had some carpenters and professional builders, but not everybody was. In fact, most people weren't. At camp there were people who work with kids for a living and a lot of people who don't. What was most impressive to me was how it all fit together.
We're using words like "community" and "unity" in church settings a lot lately, but I'm coming to understand unity differently than I did before. To be unified is not to have everybody doing the same thing, it is to have everyone moving toward a common goal. Singing in unison doesn't sound bad. It is, without a doubt, unified. But there is a dimension that we're missing out on. When a choir sings, there are a variety of different notes being sung by a various voices, but all of those notes and voices fit into the greater unity of a song. Let's face it, it's just better. It's not more unified, but the unity is broader than unison.
You wouldn't necessarily think that some carpenters, a couple of schoolteachers, a body shop guy, a truck driver, a mechanic, a pharmacist, an electrician, some retirees and some other odds and ends would be a work crew to build a church. But is was a thing of beauty to watch God take all of those various parts and weave them together into a unit. But God didn't gift all of us non-builders with a supernatural dose of carpentry skills right before we started. I was still a schoolteacher who didn't know a whole lot about building anything. But when it was over, I felt that I had been valuable to the overall purpose. Not invaluable, but someone who took part and helped bring the purpose to pass. There were even a couple of times that not being a carpenter was helpful. My questions were different and my perspective was different simply because I wasn't a carpenter. If God had turned me into a carpenter right before it started, I wouldn't have had that perspective and been able to do what I did. I had a role to play in the bigger scheme.
This is the same for all of us. God is orchestrating a symphony among his people. My goal is not to make the symphony happen, my purpose is to pick up my instrument and play. No matter how beautifully I play, it is no match for the sound of the symphony. In John 17:23, Jesus prays for us and lets us in on the purpose of the symphony: "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them". When we join together and all play our parts, when we let our different notes and instruments blend together, the world around us gets a glimpse of Jesus and the love of our Father. With that in mind, let's make some music.