In my youth all things seemed possible to me. As I have grown a little older I have realised that this can be put down partly to the ‘arrogance of youth’ and partly (as I would read it now, looking back) the goodness of God in blessing many of the things I turned my hands to.
But I have been reflecting recently on what happened to that ‘spirit of the possible.’ In particular, I have been wondering if there is something inherent in my Christian faith, or more worryingly part of our ‘Christian subculture’ which squashes that attitude. Here are a few reflections without any sense of a conclusion.
- There is a right sense in which I am now less reliant on my self and place less confidence in my own abilities than when I was younger and not a Christian.
- But this should surely be balanced by a greater sense of confidence in God (and I think on a deep level it is).
- There may be other theological reasons. For example, as a tentatively amillennial Christian, I may be less optimistic in my outlook than my postmillennial brothers and sisters, especially when I live in a country where there is relatively little Gospel growth.
- Maybe I do not hear enough preaching (within the churches in my rather conservative constituency) about the power and glory of God, which would give me more of a vision of what He could do – in my life, in my land. Perhaps some of my more charismatic brothers and sisters are better at this, and as a result, more visionary.
- Perhaps Tim Keller’s critique of British churches as generally ‘not entrepreneurial enough’ has some substance.
- Perhaps I don’t pray enough, so I don’t see God answering prayers enough, and so again, I lack vision and excitement.
So I need to pray more. I need to reflect (personally) on God’s character and power to give me greater confidence in what He could do.
And as churches, we need to do the same. We need to develop a richer, more fully-orbed theology which shows us how God is part of all of our life – not just Sunday worship, but our work and rest and play. We need to be encouraging each other to use the gifts that God has given us (and in our churches recognising that Word gifts aren’t the only gifts – and that all gifts can be used for the edification of the body of Christ). We need to trust that God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do.
And then, with Paul, we can declare, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)