This is the fifth post in a series on our inadequacy. Read the others here.
How long can a human survive without water? Without food? Without air? I don’t know exactly (I’m sure Google does) but the exact time doesn’t matter as much as the big truth: not long. We are not exactly autonomous creatures, we depend on so much in our lives. Even for the most basic needs like food or drink, we are dependant.
But for most of us in the West, our “needs” are much more than mere survival. We need all sorts of things that we don’t really need. The size of our houses, the cars we pick, the compressed and inhospitable calendars we keep attest to this. And with these needs come the mortgages, loans, working hours, and anxiety that inevitably come along. But we want to present ourselves as self-sufficient, able to conquer all. Problem is we know we aren’t. And the more we prop up this shallow façade, the more we feel its weight.
If we live like this, that means we believe it’s all up to us. It’s only up to us. There’s nobody else out there to come through. Or, if there is someone else out there, they probably don’t care enough or aren’t powerful enough to come through, so it’s functionally up to us anyway.
We like it that way because we get to be in control. But with control comes anxiety (because it all really does rest on us). We are anxious as independent creatures because we don’t have the power needed to truly be in control. We just don’t have it in ourselves.
When Jesus sent out the 72 workers for this crazy mission in Luke 10 (read the whole story here), He didn’t offer a bunch of resources to them. In fact, these missionaries were woefully under-resourced. Why would Jesus, who has control over everything, choose to send out his workers in this way? It must have been because the power in this mission wasn’t related to their resources, but to the relationship they had with the One in control of the resources.
A quick look at how poorly resourced these missionaries were:
V. 4: “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”
No moneybag, knapsack, or sandals. Basically He’s saying, Go…now! And don’t even stop to have a chat on your way, this is urgent! It’s a big deal: be focused. The engine of mission isn’t money, it’s God’s sending power.
Vv. 7-8: “Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.”
They are dependent on others for food. One of our simplest needs, Jesus sends these disciples without it. Do we depend on God for our basic needs, or are we happy to see ourselves as independent? Just because you worked some hours and get a check with your name on it doesn’t mean that you are independent. You are still dependent on God for it. And He’s gracious to provide it.
V. 21: “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”
We covered basic things, like money and food, but even other things like knowledge and wisdom are poorly resourced in us. How does Jesus describe these rockstars of mission? As little children. Not learned. Not clever. Not wise. But a child is: dependant.
These are rebukes to me: I raise our funds through churches and through individuals. I know what we have on our fund raising spreadsheet isn’t enough to plant a church right now. And add to that all the fears of not providing for my family.
My first response when seeing a lack like this is to pour myself into work, spend all my energy to spin all of my gears and use time and effort to overcompensate for my inadequacy. Now working hard is good and we should all do that. But what identity are we working out of? Are we striving to cling to our independence, covering up the fig leaves of our inadequacy? Or, in realising our limits, do we embrace our inadequacy and offer that up to our Father? One leads to anxiety, the other freedom. One leads to living in fear, the other living with joy.
So no matter where your pay check comes from, what your job might be, where God has called you, and if you feel secure or not. The raw truth is that we are all dependent beings. If that is true, what are we depending on? If you are a Christian, we get to depend on the God who is loving, generous, caring, thoughtful, and powerful. Why would we not embrace our inadequacy?