Skip to main content

Human Will Power is Not Enough

Today there was a wonderful convergence between the lectionary readings and my own circumstances. In ministry one of the most useful character traits is stubbornness and resolve, the ability to keep doing what is right regardless of the opposition or discouragement. It doesn't really matter how talented you are or enthusiastic if you will give up when the going gets tough. The pastors that make a real difference are more than a flash in the pan, they go the long haul and take the licks. But simply being stubborn, or even optimistic is not enough.

Isaiah 9:8-12

The Lord has sent a message against Jacob;
    it will fall on Israel.
All the people will know it—
    Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—
who say with pride
    and arrogance of heart,
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
    but we will rebuild with dressed stone;
the fig trees have been felled,
    but we will replace them with cedars.”
11 But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them
    and has spurred their enemies on.
12 Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west
    have devoured Israel with open mouth.
Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.

Simply deciding, "I can do this" or "I will not be beaten" is not the solution because it is an expression of self sufficiency and pride. It is no better than quitting because in this attitude what should be God's work has become your work and so it is doomed to futility.


John 3:19-21

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done through God.

Our greatest hope as servants of God, is not that we will survive or succeed but that our work is really God's work. That when our deeds are exposed in the light they are found not to have been human ideas and ingenuity but the result of divine grace operating in our lives. Does my resilience come from sheer force of personality or does it come from my humble dependence upon and faith in God to use me? James 4:10 and 1 Peter 5:6 put it best, "humble yourselves . . . that he may lift you up."


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

Thor Ragnarok and Parihaka: Postcolonial Apocalypse

Thor: Ragnarok is a riot of colour, sound, violence, humour, sci-fi and fantasy. As a piece of entertainment it is the best Marvel has produced so far. As in many of Taika Waititi's films the plot often seems secondary to the humour and a number of quirky moments seemed only to serve for a quick giggle. I left the theatre overwhelmed by the sensory experience, but ultimately unimpressed by any deeper meaning.

It wasn't until the second morning after my trip to the movies that I woke to the realisation that the movie could function as a profound postcolonial metaphor (I do some of my best thinking while alseep, also it can take me a while for the penny to drop). Unfortunately a quick google showed me that I was neither the first, nor the second to have this thought.

[Spoiler Alert!]

It's easy to miss with all the other stuff going on but Thor undergoes a postcolonial awakening during the film as he slowly realises that his beloved Asgard and its dominion of the nine realms …

Dale Martin does Mark

Dale Martin is an important and frequently controversial NT scholar. Those of us who can't make it to Yale to hear him teach can access some of his lectures, in fact his entire introduction to the NT course, through the magic of the internet.

Here he is holding forth on Mark . . .