This past Sunday I had an odd experience. It all began when I awakened and realized that I had no recollection, no idea really, of what I was teaching that day. Oh I had set it all up the previous Monday, and I did remember that it was easy… but I couldn’t even remember my text. It was a little disconcerting to be honest…
Of course I knew it was something about spiritual gifts; I should remember that after being here 3 weeks, but which text was it? I also knew that I had it saved on the computer, that it was all printed out in a huge font that I can more or less read and sitting on the table in the church office… but what text was it again…?
I fired up the computer and opened the file… OK, I did 1 Corinthians and Romans already, so this is either Ephesians or 1 Peter; it started to come back… 1 Peter is only 2 verses, so this must be Ephesians, but it didn’t look familiar. I read it; nothing. I read it again; nothing again. Then I read it the third time and poof… oh yeah, I remember now: easy!
I was relieved.
A couple of hours later, I was ready to get up there and get started, and a young lady named Ashley was “doing the prayer” and she began with a string of words I’ve never heard before: “Father, we thank you for Don Merritt…” I have no idea what came next, because those words hit me like a truckload of bricks. My initial thought was something like “Huh? What? I didn’t do anything… what are you talking about?” My second thought was along the lines of “Oh **** teaching the Word of God is an awesome responsibility! I’d better get this right…”
It isn’t that I’ve never thought of the responsibility before; I have for sure and I get it. Yet in that moment Ashley’s words took me off guard and I had the sensation of my life passing in front of my eyes: Who am I to have such a responsibility, such an opportunity? I’m nobody! It was humbling to be sure.
I normally approach teaching the Word of God, whether in a blog or in person, from a missional point of view: God saved me out of death, literally as it happens, gave me a spiritual gift and called me to service; simple. Now, let’s get to work…and the biggest part of my job is to show up on time and to get out of His way. The other side of this, the one that Ashley put into a word string almost never occurs to me, probably because I am so clear on how little of this has anything to do with me; I’m really not that good. Last Sunday, I couldn’t even remember what I was supposed to talk about when I got up. See what I mean? “Don” is of no consequence; the Word is all that matters, building up the Body of Christ is what matters, making disciples who make disciples is what matters.
And yet… there are those relationships that we form along the way; they begin with a higher purpose to make disciples, and then they grow into something else, something called “community” or “family.”
I want to thank Ashley for blowing my mind last Sunday, because I think that caused me to see something more fully than before: The “fullness” of Christ resides in the community of believers and that is not merely a concept or a doctrine, nor is it an “ideal”. No, it is a real and present reality… even I can see that now, and I am notoriously slow about these kinds of things.