You are called to be. Not do.
We were sitting around a coffee table sipping Nescafe (or black tea for the more refined people in the room) when one of my mentors stated something that hit me stronger than the caffeine in my black coffee.
"God didn't create us to do, but to be. We are His daughters and sons, not tools."
Those words hung heavy in the air as those of us in the room processed the meaning of those two short sentences.
We had been discussing our hopes and dreams in life and how those of us millennials in the room want to live a life of meaning and impact.
As the conversation quickly detoured down what we dream to do in our lives, this my mentor of mine dropped that truth bomb on us.
I've heard it said that deep truths are like poetry - and most people hate poetry.
This statement about us being called "to be and not to do" was a tough truth to wrestle with and reminded me of this satirical comparison to poetry.
Truth is hard to swallow sometimes.
And part of the reason that this statement has stuck with me was because of a passage out of the Bible that I had read that same week.
Found in the middle of the Bible, in the book of Psalms, I read through these verses one morning:
Now this is a beautiful depiction of God and all of creation isn't it? Where God takes everything that is broken and makes it beautiful as He eradicates evil from creation. Light invading the darkness.
It is a reminder for each reader that today is not the end of the story. That what is is not what always will be.
God is on the move.
And if you are familiar with the life of Jesus, Psalm 146 may also remind you of a story from the book of Luke where we are told about an audacious moment from Jesus:
I've always loved this story where Jesus reads from the book of Isaiah (in both the Christian and Jewish holy texts) and declares that this HE is the one bringing about this future of healing, beauty, and wholeness - and He is bringing it about right now.
Maybe you're like me. Not only has this story given me the goosebumps brimming from hope but it also left me hoping that I can one day say the same things about my own life. My goal being that I can bring about the same type of healing through my own life.
A noble aim right?
Let me pull together these two passages of the Bible and my coffee conversation together and explain to you while all of this left me feeling punched in my individualistic, Western gut.
Whenever I had read these words of Jesus in the book of Luke, my prayer would be that my life would live up to such a calling.
That I would do enough and accomplish enough to bring such healing and beauty into the world.
But I had completely missed the point.
That's not what I - as a child of God and disciple of Jesus - am called to accomplish.
Those things can only be accomplished by Jesus.
Read Psalm 146 again. It's not us that achieves anything. It's the Lord.
Sight for the blind.
Freedom for the imprisoned.
Food for the hungry.
Protection for the immigrant, orphan, widow, marginalized, and abused.
Those are all noble aspirations.
But they can't be accomplished by me - or you.
We cannot achieve these things by ourselves.
We are not tools remember? We aren't called to do this and this and that and that.
We are called to something simpler, but also much harder.
We are called to be.
Jesus, in John 15, puts it this way: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
We are called to remain in Jesus.
While the abused will be vindicated, the marginalized loved, the hungry fed, the imprisoned set free, the blind restored sight, and the broken healed and made whole - you and I cannot accomplish it alone.
We are called to focus our attention on being in and remaining in Jesus. Living our lives daily in His presence. As we go through our lives working and playing and living, we do it in Jesus. Our focus is to be in constant relationship and conversation with Him.
When we remain in Jesus, we will bear fruit (again: John 15). Not because of our own power, but because of Jesus.
So that afternoon as I finished off my cup of coffee, this is what I felt God punch me in the gut with:
"Jeremy, you can't save anyone. Only I can. You're my child. That's your identity and aim. Not doing, but being."
We cannot save the world. Only Jesus can.
And He already has.
We are not tools, but God's daughters and sons. You are not the totality of what you do.
You are who you are because of who you are in Jesus.
So focus on being. Abiding in Jesus and deepening your relationship with Him.
As you do this - as we each do this - God will redeem creation and accomplish what we read about in the Bible verses earlier in this post. But we won't be the one's achieving it, remember we are just the "branches." Jesus is "the vine."
God can and will do in and through us what we can't do by ourselves.
He will bring His perfect, beautiful Kingdom back to full control of all of creation.
And we get to be a part of it. But not by doing.
You are called to be.
You are called to be. Not do.