In doing some research on this week’s text (Matthew 9:35-10:8) I have found myself diving into the YouTube responses to Rob Bell’s videos, the Nooma series. I have done this series with a couple of groups now and really like them. For the most part these videos make people think and challenge the way they live their daily lives. I like that.
The controversy I followed was on Bell’s video Dust. Within that video, Bell talks about God’s faith in us. He states that Peter started to sink when walking on water because he lacked faith in himself and that is why Jesus reaches out his hand and says, “you of little faith.” When I heard this for the first time I thought that was a very unique way of looking at it. God has faith in us. God…has…faith…in…us? In reading this week’s text I can see footprints of that idea as well. Jesus is telling the crowds that “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Matthew then goes on to name the 12 disciples and tell Jesus’ instructions to them.
Will Willimon in his Pulpit Resource, (Vol. 36, No. 2, page 46) says “It’s amazing that the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace turns to ordinary folk like the 12 disciples, like us, and give us his work to do….People may believe in Jesus but they have difficulty believing that Jesus believes in us!” Willimon echoes Bell’s thought that God has faith in us.
Is this heresy though? Are we walking a fine line between claiming that faith in ourselves will do God’s will? Is Peter’s faith in Peter the reason he sank? Is Jim’s faith in Jim the reason why Jim’s ministry is going good or bad? I think that is a line we need to walk carefully.
We do not want to presuppose that God has faith in us because God cannot do it without our help. We cannot launch ourselves up onto that type of pedestal. What Bell and Willimon are saying is that God wants to use us because he loves us so much. We should be honored and in awe that God chooses to do God’s will through us. God doesn’t need us; God can do it on his own. But like a caring father he wants his children to attempt to live the life in his footsteps, learning from him, watching him work, and then living it out in their daily lives.
A healthy and leadership rich congregation is one where the leadership role is shared within the laity. The pastor is there to help, encourage and to be an example, but the best leadership for a healthy congregation comes from laity. The same is true with God’s work. God knows that God could do it alone but instead God calls normal, everyday people to do it. God sends help through the Holy Spirit but the work is done with human hands. God has faith in us. God has faith that the gifts, talents, and abilities that God gave his children, his creation, are enough to do the work required.
God has faith in us. Do we have faith in ourselves that we have what it takes? Do we believe that God has faith in us? Does that scare us because we don’t have confidence in ourselves, in our abilities, in our callings? Maybe that is why the laborers are few.