August 2, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Luke 10:17-20. Today marks the first day of the third year since I started these reflections. It’s been an eye-opening journey.
The seventy[-two] returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Can you imagine the experience of being given the power to heal people and cast out demons and then seeing that you can really do it? It must have been very heady stuff for these disciples, these ordinary people who followed Jesus everywhere and experienced the power of his love and healing. Obviously they were enthused and probably wanted to do even more. Power is intoxicating. They also probably felt pretty proud as they reported back to their Master about their successes and doubtless yearned for his approval.
Satan was cast out of heaven for the sin of pride, which led to his rebellion against God. It seems that Jesus is reminding his disciples of the pitfall of pride. It was his power that gave them power over demons, not their own efficacy. They were simply instruments of God’s love. They should rejoice in that fact, the fact of being in union with God in His kingdom, in heaven.
God’s gives His gifts to us freely and abundantly; we cannot merit them. Thus, we can claim no credit; we cannot be proud or boastful. Jesus consistently taught and modeled humility for he knew that everything he did was by the grace of God. As Barclay writes, “It will always remain true that a man’s greatest glory is not what he had done but what God has done for him….Pride bars from heaven; humility is the passport to the presence of God.”
I would do well to remember that. It is so easy for me to claim credit for the blessings that God has showered upon me. It may be true that I use His gifts well — that is the responsibility attached to those gifts — but He is the source of all. He is the creator, the author, the progenitor. Humility is the way in which I show my gratitude to Him. Allowing Him to use me as His instrument brings me into union with him and with those He places in my life every day. That’s what I am to rejoice in. That’s the consistent message of Jesus throughout the gospels.
I seldom make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I was led to resolve to be as joyful as possible for me. Today, I realize that my resolution wasn’t about a feeling or attitude. It’s not joy that I should be trying to achieve. It is surrendering myself to God, serving and loving those in my life as He desires. As I do so, joy will flow in and out of me. It happens sometimes. Now the challenge is to experience it at all times, to be in union with God at all times.
Have a great summer weekend. We have a gaggle of family coming in for the next week and a bit. It may be hard for me to find a quiet place to reflect and write. Instead I’ll be trying to let God use me to love and serve them all — a true test of my willingness to surrender to Him!