“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2)
Nicole and I were ecstatic when the opportunity arose for us to get a dog this Christmas. We had wanted one for a long time, especially after one of our cats died last year. Holly, our new Scottish terrier, is an intelligent, energetic, most welcome addition to our household. But along with all the affection and adorable playfulness came significant changes to our daily routine. We have to take her out like clockwork, getting up even earlier in the morning, and seeing to her right away when we get home from work. We have to establish her routine through the process of training. She’s well worth it, but it will require some time and adjustments.
You may remember the tagline from the 2002 Spider-Man movie: “With great power comes great responsibility.” I believe this statement holds true for us as followers of Christ. Through Him, God empowers us with unique spiritual gifts, special skills, and fulfillment of dreams and desires. Having given that power, whatever its form, God then delegates specific tasks intended for its use. We are responsible for working to carry out these tasks to bear fruit for Him. This may often lead us into new and unknown territories, but that challenge is one that makes life worth living.
It is a privilege to know and serve Christ, and the key is to always be able to see it that way – which is nearly impossible with our human nature. Two frames of mind in particular can lead us astray. One is to feel overwhelmed in the face of new situations and assignments or trying to learn new things. Accepting God’s call very often leads us out of our comfort zones, and it is easy to become resistant or even rebellious when that happens (remember Jonah!). One of the most important life lessons I have learned from being in this position many times is that God will never give you anything He knows you cannot handle. So don’t panic – you may just not realize you possess a certain quality or ability yourself. This is how we grow in God and trust Him all the more.
The other potential danger is seeing certain aspects of service as a chore rather than a privilege. We should not feel a sense of obligation to give, we should do it cheerfully. In the midst of stress, hardship, frustration, or other common complicating factors in our lives, however, it can be difficult to make a leap of faith or give an offering to God. There are also times when God seems distant or prayers go unanswered (or without the answer we wanted!). I have been there as well, filled with doubt on several occasions, but I have found that the true test of faith is perseverance – keep on reaching out to God, trying some new ways if necessary. I believe the reason He keep pushing us forward, into the unknown, is to prevent our following Him from seeming like just going through a bunch of motions.
For some assurance, we need look no further than the great commission. Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-19). Do you realize that Jesus is turning to us and entrusting us with His power and authority? Yes, it is a great task He is charging us with, but remember His promise in the last verse: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Perhaps this should be the tagline for our faith as His followers. Our responsibilities will be great, but the privileges are even greater. Whatever we may have to face or endure for Him, we should not worry – He has our backs!
Daniel can be reached via email here.