This is the third post in a series on our inadequacy. Read the others here.
Whenever I come out of a superhero movie, I feel a bit of a superhero myself. I’ve watched Batman be awesome and cool and save the day long enough to think of myself as Batman. When I leave the theatre, I’m not in my Golf, I’m in the Batmobile. I think of getting the bad guys, seeing justice reign, and I feel my muscles getting bigger and my stomach getting flatter. I like Batman as the hero, but really, I want to be the hero. And who doesn’t? Being the hero looks pretty cool.
But reality is obviously different than a two hour Hollywood version of a comic book. We can’t be the hero, we just don’t have what it takes. We can’t do it alone, we need others.
We are inadequate by ourselves.
This is a particular area of inadequacy that Jesus highlights in Luke 10. (Read the whole story here.)
In the first verse Luke tells us that Jesus picked out people to be sent out in groups of two:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
Jesus has a mission (that’s what the previous post was about). And Jesus wants his mission to be carried out in community. We aren’t lone Christians out there alone by ourselves in the world (or at least we ought not to be). God sends His Church on His mission with each other. Together. Jesus thinks that we are inadequate by ourselves to carry out His mission.
Because we like to be the hero of the story we act like we can do it by ourselves, often without even thinking. We over-estimate our ability and under-estimate our inadequacy. We have to actively work against this.
Never have I felt my own inadequacy in this area stronger than when we moved from America to England (you can read basic details about why we did that here). When we first moved to Manchester we knew a fair amount of people, but we didn’t have any friends yet. I had to re-learn how ministry works in a different context and in more than a few ways had to unlearn how I’ve previously done things. Being outside of our own culture, we felt alone in a new and powerful way.
We desperately needed others. We needed others to teach us about how to navigate relationships, lead small groups, preach, and most of all for friendship. And it’s been in these places of inadequacy that God has blessed as we’ve struggled through it. We can’t even be tempted to go it alone because alone we have nothing to offer. This is just as true for the cross cultural missionary as it is for the stay at home parent as it is for the Type A workaholic. We can’t do it alone. Jesus know this. We know it. But do we try and cover it up?
Instead of covering it up, as we will always be tempted to do, I suggest something else. Make it known and be honest about it. It’s often these inadequate areas that Jesus chooses to work through, so that He gets the glory. And so much more can happen when Jesus’ mission is carried out in Jesus’ way. An independent life is a small life. Don’t we want more than we can do ourselves?
The normal activity of a Christian’s mission in this world is through community. If we aren’t involving community in our mission in one way or another we have to ask ourselves if this is how Jesus wants it done. The cost to living this way is our own version of us as hero. As much as it might pain you to admit: you aren’t Batman and you never will be. You’ve been called to more.