Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taking every thought captive

Some decades ago I memorized 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 with only a vague idea of what it meant. I now have a slightly less vague idea.

The lovely Carol was reading an article to me from conversations journal volume 8.2 (Fall-Winter 2010) -- "How Not to Be a Hero" by Scott C. Sabin. This is a great article, and it resonated with something I heard at the Wright Lecture Series. It was fashionable a while back to talk about being the "hands and feet of Jesus." This is not all that bad a picture; if the Church is Christ's body, then some members might be hands and feet. But this "hands and feet of Jesus" thing has a pitfall: we might start thinking it's all up to us. Better to think of ourselves as John the Baptist, pointing people toward Jesus.

Back to the article, though: the author was having an Elijah-under-the-broom-tree moment (1 Kings 19:4), as he was bombarded by thoughts like "you don't really have what it takes" and "you didn't accomplish anything" and "you won't make a difference."

This reminds me of (I'll get back to this soon, I promise) something I heard maybe 20 years ago about some guys heading to a Promise Keepers event. Someone accused them of being shallow, and a spokesman for the group said, "You don't know the half of it! We're an inch deep and a mile wide!" His point, of course, is that we are nothing without Jesus; we really are in deep trouble without him.

OK, really back to the article now -- actually a sidebar titled "How to Stand" by Mindy Caliguire, on page 35. She listed a few sample thoughts that might come your way, approximately this:

  • You don't have what it takes.
  • You can't provide what this project (people, congregation, etc.) needs
  • You barely understand the problems, you don't have a good grasp of your resources, blah blah blah
  • You're no hero.
When I heard this list, those old Promise Keepers came to mind. You're right! I don't have what it takes! But I know someone who does! I really can't provide what this project or whatever needs. I barely understand the problems. I'm no hero. But that's OK, because I don't have to be; my Dad has what it takes, he can provide as he has so many times in the past, he understands the problems and the resources and all the rest. And he's always the hero.

And in a flash it came to me: this is taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is what it means to destroy speculation. "Gee, can I really do this?" has a very simple answer: "Without me you can do nothing" but "with God all things are possible." If God could deliver his message through a donkey (Numbers 22), then I'm going to go out on a limb and say he can use me for whatever task he wants me to do.

Put differently, we destroy speculation and take every thought captive to Christ by remembering that it's all about Him -- God in Christ is the hero -- and it's not about me.

Moses ran into this when God was telling him to go set the Israelites free from the king of Egypt. There's a part of this that would really be funny -- well, actually it is funny, to us. God says, "I am sending you to Pharoah" (Exodus 3:10) and Moses says, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah...?" (3.11) and God says, "I will be with you" (3:12). This goes on for a while, and then Moses says, "I have never been eloquent" (etc.) and God says, "I will help you."

Notice all those "I"s in there? Of course you know who wins. Moses learned what we all must remember: it's not about me; I'm never the hero. It's all about God; he is always the hero, because he's the only one who has what it takes for this sorry dark world.

And if whenever a thought like "You don't have what it takes" comes to you or me, we turn it into "Definitely I don't have what it takes, but the Lord Jesus Christ does; he is the only hope of the world. And he has sent me..." then I think that's taking those thoughts captive unto the obedience of Christ. To him be the glory!

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