Here is God’s way: he prefers to use flawed people to accomplish his purposes. Although he has power to act on his own, he uses the breath of his Spirit instead of the might of his hand. In fact, the words of the “Great Commission” are so commonplace among us we miss the surprising revelation of how God chooses to work:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore you go and make disciples of all nations . . . “
Why didn’t someone like Peter speak up and say, “Lord you have all the power and all the authority—why do you need us?”
The answer, of course, is not that God has need of us, but we have a desperate need of him. Any good parent knows you can do the dishes or mow the yard faster—and better—than your ten year-old, but the issue isn’t doing the dishes or mowing the yard, it’s raising children. A good parent does what the child cannot do for itself. A foolish parent pampers a child who can (and should) take responsibility for its own choices. The Heavenly Father is a wise and good parent; he knows our true potential.
Which invitation is more glorious, for us to work with him side by side, or to receive a one-way ticket to heaven? Which invitation requires more of us, carries the potential to transform us, and shows us the greater respect? Perhaps this is how the Apostle saw us being “transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.“
In the death and resurrection of his only begotten son, the Father has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. In the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is constantly at our side to guide, teach, and encourage. We are never alone, but we are never coddled.
Our book of inspiration, the Bible, is a record of this glorious invitation, issued again and again. Adam and Eve were invited to care for God’s act of creation; Abraham and Sarah were invited to initiate God’s plan of reconciliation; Moses was invited to spearhead God’s deliverance to a nation. These stories, grand and true, reveal how God works. Each story should lead us to ask, “What is my invitation?”