Not long ago we were out on the road again, presenting the Two Roads talk. I think I have spoken that message over 200 times and have never lost my passion for it.
Anyway, long story short-afterwards I’m chatting with a handful of new friends-and a man I don’t recognize steps into the circle. Almost immediately he says something very much like this: “You know, this whole message of grace and identity and trust and such-I think it’s very important for broken people and maybe new Christians. But some of us are mature and ready to move on to the real stuff. We’re learning to partner with God in the work of the Kingdom. We’ve moved past this message, doing real and significant things for God.”
I stood there dumbfounded. I was caught totally off-guard. Everything I had just taught was suddenly being articulately and competently patronized. Everything was now silent and in slow motion. I was embarrassed for those standing with me; fearing they were losing confidence in the message the longer he spoke. I’m used to fielding encouragement, stories, and walking through practical implications of the message. This guy in the suit freaked me out. He was bright, intimidating and supremely self-confident in his convictions. I suddenly felt significantly underdressed and bumbling. He explained how he was discipling other men in his neighborhood to significance and vital purpose as they brought their best disciplines and efforts to God. We say often that there are no together people, just those with whiter teeth. Well, this guy sure had white teeth and seemed supremely put-together. I think I mumbled some inane response and eventually excused myself to the rest room.
It was weeks later until I had the courage to admit to Bill and Bruce my inability to fend off his dismissive response to what we consider to be at the core of God’s heart.
These three questions they posed have reminded me of what I believe and why:
1) What, other than trusting Christ’s power in me, do I bring to a partnership with Him?
2) Where in Scripture am I called to be a “partner”? I am called to be a Son.
3) Does God desire our excellence or does He want to reveal His excellence through our trust of Him?
Duh. That’s why I hang out with these guys! It is easy for me to be intimidated by systems and theologies that challenge us to “man up” and “be all you can be for God.” It appeals to our flesh, to our never-ending longing to prove that we can do something to prove that we care enough, are sincere enough, believe enough.
It is hard to believe that without trust in His ability, I can set up chairs, even do stuff, lots of stuff, but cannot please Him or do anything of God’s work. It is from this relationship of trust that God reveals to me all manner of profound things to do. Ephesians 2:10-“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
See you out there on the road. And, please, be nice to me. Or I’ll go hide in the restroom.