I went over to Pennsauken last night to be with Circle of Hope Marlton and Crescent. I was sharing with them some of my experience in finding freedom in being limited. They’re working through Paul’s letter to the Galatians which is all about freedom. I brought up these verses from Galatians 6.
“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” The insight I had was that we shouldn’t deceive ourselves by comparing ourselves to others and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves by comparing ourselves to the image we have of ourselves–which is sort of a composite of comparisons of others (which are odious). The American definition of freedom is to have our desires unhindered by any impediment. Sprint is spending millions to convince us that we ought to be unlimited.
I admit, I can be seduced by being unlimited, but then my church planting mission depends on my being supremely capable and so charismatic as to win everyone I meet over to Christ by sheer force of personality. This isn’t reality and the desire for it to be true actually makes me more limited than I really am. If I cling to this image of myself, I deceive myself and my experience has been that that deception saps my energy in a cycle of disappointment.
I’m choosing to receive the freedom that Christ gives me to be my self as I really am–limited me. This Lent, Circle of Hope’s daily prayer blog was instructing us to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings in order to get to the heart of who we really are in Christ. Following the lead of a 4th Century Monk named Evagrius we were rediscovering “an important secret to help us love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We can only grow to our fullness in Christ if we do the spiritual work of examining our thoughts so that we can know that our thoughts, feelings, and even our behaviors are not the sum of us; they are not our essence.” I thought this sounded a lot like the testing that Paul is exhorting us too in Galatians 6:4.
I have been encouraged through this practice to offer myself as I am to the mission, today. No need to wait until I’ve got it “figured out” or I’ve achieved some semblance of the self I think I ought to be. I am empowered by the Holy Spirit and what effect my efforts have is dependent on the Holy Spirit’s action. I am not responsible for how other’s respond to me and my message. I am responsible as one of Christ’s witnesses to be an opportunity for someone to respond to God in a new way.
The congregation at Marlton and Crescent is trying a new thing that is akin with this sort of freedom. They’re throwing a party at the 7 pm in hope’s of meeting some new friends. Last night was wiffle ball and the Sand Lot. As if to make the blessing explicit, there was a full rainbow for the first pitch. Here’s a picture of God’s symbol of promise as it faded and the game got going. Let’s keep leaning into that promise.