Inability and Opportunity
Over my vacation this past week I took some time to sit out on the beach and think about the awesome task God has given us of seeing His Gospel preached to all nations in the earth.
The sea is often used in Scripture as a metaphor for the lost nations… the 6400 unreached people groups currently on our planet… So, staring at the sea often causes me to dream about seeing God’s glory fill those nations.
The 2 words that kept dominating my thinking as I sat there were “inability” and “opportunity.”
Inability: I get absolutely overwhelmed with a paralyzing sense of inability at the size of the task before us. We, the church, simply do not have “what it takes” to get the job done. But that should not discourage us… Jesus wanted us to feel that way. When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Acts 1:8, the 1st thing He told the Apostles to do was to go and… do nothing, except wait for promised Holy Spirit. For 10 days they sat doing nothing but praying and meditating on the fact that they did not have the power to do the job they had just been given.
Inability is precisely what we are supposed to feel at the size of the task. It’s what sterile, 90-year old Abraham felt when God told him that He’d bless all the nations through his multitudinous offspring; it’s what the disciples felt when Jesus told them to feed 5000 starving men in front of them with 5 loaves and 2 fish; it’s what they felt again on the Mount of Ascension that day when Jesus gave the Great Commission.
It’s what I feel thinking about the 6400+ unreached people groups, many of whom will violently oppose our arrival
But in embracing that moment of paralyzing inability, God offers to us a surge of liberating opportunity. No, I cannot; but, yes, God can. God can bring life from death; God can bring fertility out of sterility; God can multiply loaves and fishes; God can make His glory fill the nations like the waters fill the sea.
Thankfully, the burden of the Great Commission does not rest on my shoulders. I could never fully sustain it. God never wants me to feel like world salvation is up to me. Salvation belongs entirely to our God. The weight of the Great Commission doesn’t rest on my shoulders, but the opportunity of the Great Commission does, and if I do not avail myself of the power God has placed at my fingertips, to be released by faith, I will be guilty of the blood of millions whom God could have saved had I only believed. (Ezekiel 33:8; Matt 13:58).
Inability and opportunity. That is our posture before the nations.
All that to say, I’m back from vacation and ready to get back to work.