By Jesse Medina
A friend and I were recently talking about lofty theological concepts yeah, were spiritual like that. Actually, we were talking about the very broad topic of salvation. I was in preparation for a sermon I was doing for our youth group and he was leading the worship. So, as we talked about this, we went on a walk.
Somehow, we got off on this tangent of whether believers will receive any sort of judgment by God. But thats not the pointthe point is that we started to explore the good things that believers do. What is the source of these good things?
Many times, Christians want to deflect everything to the glory of God which is a good thing, dont get me wrong. But dont you just wish that when you compliment the vocalist she would just respond with a simple thank you as opposed to the oh, well, it was Jesus singing through me?
No? Just me?
Heres my point: the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirityou know, this being we call God is not a puppeteer and we his marionettes, having every good action be a result of His doing and every bad action a result of our own. But sometimes we talk like this dont we? We say things like Ive just given Jesus control of my life or Jesus, take the wheel (sounds like a country song, I know). Or, if something bad were to happen we would say something like, Yeah, I just took matters into my own hands. And all the while, we fail to recognize something.
God doesnt want control.
It is not as if, as some of us imagine, Jesus wants to put on our skin and do good stuff that misses the point entirely. God didnt create a world full of people so that Jesus could have a bunch of different suits through which to do his work. He is about something much more beautiful and profound than that! Part of what it means to be saved, part of what it means to participate in this incredible thing called redemption, is that God wants you and I play an active role. Not some passive hey, Jesus, Ill sit shotgun, you do the driving. We may think thats a better way to live, but its not. It may sound Christian, but the picture the Bible paints is much different.
Now, you may be reading this right now and think Im a jerk and a heretic. You may be right, but hear me out on this next part
God does not want to micro-manage you. He does not want to control you. Salvation is not the process of letting go and letting God do all the work. It is the process of letting God do a work in you so that you, yes you, are better equipped for what he is inviting you into. Jesus doesnt want you to take shotgunhe wants you to be a better driver!
Because as part of his love for us, he invites us the imperfect, broken, sometimes outright stupid people we are into what he is doing. And, heres the best part, he trusts that we can do it. We may not do it perfectly, and as an all-knowing Being, he already knows that we wont, but he still seems to think it is worth it.
This has been the case since the beginning. When God calls Abram, he says, among other things, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. This is not something that God just started doing, it is always what he has been up to. And this is reaffirmed at various points in Jesus own ministry, not least of which when he commissions his disciples to go into all the world.
So dont be afraid to grip that steering wheel. Shotgun is fun and all, but God is inviting you to do a little driving yourself. Besides, Jesus is a much better navigator than you are. And he has better taste in music.
Jesse is currently on a journey of re-learning what it means to be a disciple and it is both invigorating and terrifying. He studied to be a pastor at Vanguard University of Southern California and hopes to use this degree sometime soon. Currently, he lives in Colorado with his wife, Cassie and two abnormal pets: Ace (dog) and Lola (cat).