Credentials for the Kingdom

If you weren’t aware or haven’t heard, August 1st was my first day working full time for Taproot Church.

This last year I was hired on part-time with Taproot as the “Director of Community Life”- a title that I perceived as a little too fancy for my person, like I needed a Masters degree in holiness to live up to the name or something. However, with no masters degree in tow, I have worked, worried, rejoiced, lamented and toiled this last year away. I have had times where I have thought to myself “Lord, you are working! How great you are to work through me!” and other times I have said “Lord, where are you? Why am I such a wreck? Leave me here to rot”.

So the progressions of my heart come and go; and what the Lord has left me with after this year of the highs and lows of ministry and the daunting prospect of this new full time position are these precious words:

“Jesiah, my son: you are weak”.

Weakness.

Some people may ask: What qualifies you to take on this ministry? Weakness will be my answer. “Utter neediness” will be listed under the skill-set section on the crumpled resume I turn in. “Complete Grace” will be underlined and emboldened on the page, because I am not fit for this task of full time ministry.

Weakness and the Kingdom

Weakness is what qualifies us for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Jesus, the maker and King of this Kingdom, spoke this in Mark 2:17: “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners”. Again, in Romans 5:6,8: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for us...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Weakness, neediness. Jesus came to be a physician for people such as this, people like you and me. Paul even goes so far as to say that he boasts in his weakness! Why? “So that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). That is a bold statement!

This is absolutely antithetical to what we have been raised to value. Who do you follow on social media? Do-it-yourselfers, right? What type of people does our nation applaud? People who have picked themselves up by their own bootstraps and done the hard work and got rewarded by it. Not people who declare themselves weak and in need of a savior.

Sometimes we can even get this warped perspective of works based self-fulfillment in the Christian realm. We have the right “answers”; all we need to do is follow Jesus and everything will be alright. Just pray more. Just serve more. Just read your bible more. Then we get bummed that we can’t do those things consistently; we get bummed that we are weak! What we need is not to tough it out so as to prove our righteousness, we need a supernatural intervention of God to accept us, to change us. We need a savior!

The idea that we are sufficient to make or sustain a perfect life that will bring us ultimate fulfillment is a false gospel, no matter if the lie is packaged in a "Christian" or "secular" way. We are not sufficient to sustain our own happiness, fill our souls, or create a perfect existence for ourselves; whether that be from trying harder to pray to get Gods blessings, or seeking blessing from a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood. 

Self control and discipline that mark “successful” people can be (if we are in Christ) blessings poured out by the Holy Spirit; evidences of a changed life in Jesus. Apart from the Spirits power, however, they are just tools that help feed our narcissism; and leads us to be pharisees that look down on others.

I think all of Gods people can agree: we don’t want to be Pharisees or sluggards. But before we can be satisfied in Jesus, we have to be honest with ourselves: We are in need of him to do the hard work of changing us. We are weak; and are not powerful enough to create or sustain the perfect Christian life we all think we should have. I must admit it to myself: I am not powerful enough to do the work I need to do for Taproot. Similarly:

We are not loving enough to endure the hard-fought trials of marriage and parenting.

We are not smart enough to juggle a perfect work/life balance.

We are not courageous enough to speak the Gospel in all situations to our co-workers.

We are not wise enough to handle perfectly the storms and troubles of life.

We are not patient enough to stick-it-through in the discipling of others.

We are not humble enough to be discipled ourselves.

Think of all that is tasked upon you; consider the mountain of responsibilities that is placed upon your shoulders. Let it weigh on you a bit and then realize: you are not sufficient.


The Hope for the Weak

...But. (there is always a beautiful “but” in the Gospel)...

But Jesus is. He is our righteousness before men, and most importantly, before our God. Righteousness by definition is: “the quality of being morally right or justifiable”. All righteousness is transferred to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The righteousness that we groan to have is not earned, but bought through the blood of Jesus and then lovingly given to us. This sacrifice is what brings up back to communion with our creator, which is the only place our souls have rest. Not only are we brought “right” before God, but through Jesus we are given the Holy Spirit; the same spirit that lived and moved in the life of Christ. Jesus is sufficient to not only save us from sin and make us right before God but to empower us to live new, joyful lives in him.  

Speak that to yourself: Jesus is sufficient. Jesus is sufficient today to strengthen you to do what you normally could not do through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is sufficient to give you grace and patience for your children today.

Jesus is sufficient to give you words to speak to your co-workers at a time of need.

Jesus is sufficient to give you sacrificial love for your spouse today.

Jesus is sufficient to give you satisfaction and joy today, regardless of your circumstances.

Jesus is sufficient to bring you back to his side when you failed and have fallen into sin.

Jesus is sufficient to change your heart to desire his word and his ways.

Jesus is sufficient to give you the gumption to work heartily for him.

...and Jesus is sufficient to give me the wisdom, self-control, and strength to do this work he has called me to do for Taproot. Romans 8:32 says: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

An acknowledgement of weakness, mixed with trust and faith in Christ alone breeds joy and love in the heart of the Christian that cannot be taken away (Romans 8:31-38). Communion with God through Jesus gives us the fruit of joy and the power of the Spirit to do the works he has called us to do. 

Okay. But what is it that I actually do you might ask? Here is a list of some things I will be doing for Taproot in my full time role:

  • I oversee our Gospel Communities. I do this by persisting in prayer for our communities, creating leadership training, and offering counsel and support to our GC leaders. I am currently putting together more leadership training to help equip even more leaders.

  • I oversee the church scheduling. All of our Gatherings and other events (club clean-ups, church camp, feasts, etc.) are coordinated/delegated out by me.

  • I help put out content occasionally for Taproot. This includes blog-posts mainly, but I also preach every once in awhile.

  • I am the liaison between Taproot and our Community. On occasions when we partner with other ministries and agencies around the Magic Valley, I would be a point person for our church (Examples: Staton Healthcare, Refugee Center).

  • I do whatever helps. Whatever would help clear Mike and John’s plate to teach, preach, and pray, I do. This includes trash runs, coffee buying, and keeping things stocked at the office.

I look at this list alongside my other list of being a good disciple of Jesus, Husband, Father, friend, son and laundry-task-master and I am instantly overwhelmed. But Jesus is sufficient to sow together my imperfect, fractured life for His glory, even when I don’t get all of my “to-do’s” done. I am still called to work “heartily for the Lord”- but he promises to pour out His strength to me when I am too exhausted to move. When I fail in my responsibilities either because of my weakness or because of my sin, I have a savior who advocates for me. I can trust my life in the God who loved me and gave himself for me. I can say in all things “It is well, oh my soul”! This is good news!

This truth is what I am banking on in coming on full time: Jesus alone doing the work that I cannot do in me and in our church.

Thanks for allowing me the wonderful joy and honor to work alongside you, Taproot. Together, let us sing with one voice “it is well” as we raise our families, love our Church, and reach this city with the Good News of Jesus; for He alone is sufficient for us all.