The Christian myth of potential

Potential is a word I have often heard misused among regular church attenders. Those who have attended church since their youth or who have those youth in their church may speak of it. Others might speak of it when considering a Christian family or a Christian heritage. Many talk of how these things — the time spent in church, the verses memorized, the Bible facts known, the sharp theology — these things should be used for the Lord and His work and not wasted. Certainly, this much is true.

What is not true however is that these things in anyway fill a void in God’s plan. Most assuredly they do not necessitate being used in any particular way. You see, we tend to place God in the box that we find ourselves in. A football coach looks at the talent at his school, and desires those big strong boys to come play on his team. The track coach sees the fast kids, and their ability and persuades, talks, pressures them to join up. This need for someone with particular skills is found throughout life. At church, someone is sought who can create and manage a website, or provide ventilation maintenance, or curate the grounds. People are sought to fill these positions, and we start to think of God as in the same dilemma, forgetting that God is not like man.

Luke 19:36-40

36And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way. 37And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.  39And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

God does not need the disciples to praise him. He doesn’t need people to serve Him. Previously, Jesus had stated that He was able of the stones to raise up children of Abraham. God is not limited. A great knowledge of Bible facts doesn’t mean one should be teaching Sunday School. A supposed theological prowess does not mean one should be debating the top philosophers. God may have that one working fast food, and the new Christian debating the philosophers. God doesn’t need me, and God doesn’t need you.

Too often I have heard what truly seems to amount to boasting when it regards one’s potential. “God has opened our eyes in so many ways, therefore we should be pastor’s or theologians, or writers. The world needs us, because there are not others like us.” Certainly, the error is evident. God does not need us. We should use every gift we have to the best of our ability, but God is not neglecting that gift if He decides that we take that “deep knowledge, and theological understanding” and have a circle of influence that includes 5 people. God decides. Because God can raise up stones that would do a better job than we do. We must be humble regarding what we have and who we are. There are both people and stones that can replace us.

So, be grateful. God has chosen to use people. If he has given you opportunity to serve, what a blessing that is! Serving is not drudgery. Serving is a privilege. Consider again Whom we serve. The servants around Solomon were all happy and content. Christ is greater than Solomon. This is whom we serve, in whatever position he provides for us. We do it in appreciation and gratitude recognizing that we have the same potential as every other wicked sinner.


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