I have been planning for some months to go with others to speak at a reconciliation conference in Uganda. This might seem straightforward enough, but I came to realise a few days ago that I have been stuck in the middle of a crisis of confidence concerning the call and gifts of God in my life. According to their census 84% of Ugandans are Christians; huge crowds at evangelistic rallies are common, and church growth is out of control. Given this scenario I have asked myself repeatedly, especially in the light of my general lack of evangelistic potency, “What have I got to share with these people, and will they understand my theological approach anyway?” Allied with my conviction that I am coming from a nation where the church is generally spiritually anaemic, I have lacked my usual sense of clarity and authority in preparing to speak in Africa. Then something happened the other day that started to radically reframe my mind.
Creativity old and new
A professional creative artist (actor/singer) was sharing in a prayer meeting about the various highs and lows of his history with God. This included a stellar career overseas followed by chronic illness and two broken marriages. The crunch came when alone at 3 am in the morning with a packet of pills he seriously considered “ending it all.” Before that crisis he had always looked down on those who “took the easy way out”, now he understood the fragility of human life. The Lord intervened to save him and now he is “more creative than ever”. As he spoke I began to see some spiritual truths very clearly.
Most human beings, whether they are artists, business people, architects, computer programmers or whatever, operate within the limits of the creativity of the original creation. This is “very good” (Gen 1:31; 1 Tim 4:4) but it has a limit, one imposed by death. However the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:24 ESV) releases a new measure of creativity in the world – one far greater than any limit imposed by sin, Satan and death. The implications of this revelation are wonderful for us all.
As I began to pray with a small group immediately after envisioning the above, I could see people (believers) surrounded by a fence or wall, this represented “the ways we think about themselves”. But, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV cf. Gal 6:15). There are now no limits to what God can do in/through us! I was immediately moved to repent of my unbelief about what could do through my teaching in Uganda, and this process continues.
What about you? Where are you placing limits on the power of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead in the circumstances of your life? God help us to think again about the new creativity that has encompassed us all.