Saturday, May 14, 2011

Be the Spark; It's His Fire

Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Desmond Tutu
     My heart beat faster, and I spontaneously rose to my feet with 15,000 others as his name was announced over the Tacoma Dome speakers.  It seemed as if we were all immediately aware that we were in the presence of greatness as the Archbishop slowly made his way to the center podium.  He quickly lifted his arms in an attempt to quiet the crowd and stall the goosebumps that had developed down my spine.  And there he was.  This Nobel Laureate and international social activist, with his soft expression and gentle but expressive voice, seemingly invited us to sit at his feet while he told us his words of wisdom for this life.  Like a grandfather to his grandchildren, he began speaking to us of his great God, Who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and Creator of all things.  He went on to speak of God's design throughout the ages to "partner" with His human creations to do His work.  He spoke of Moses, the Israelites, Mary, the boy with the fish and loaves, and Jesus, recounting with each one how that conversation between them and God might have gone.  It was quite endearing and even comical when he changed his voice to match the characters, just like a good story-telling grandfather would do. 

     He didn't speak of his battles, of his scars, of his sacrifices in the various victories he's won.  He didn't push a social agenda or even a human rights cause.  He told a friend years ago that he sees the depressing headlines of the daily news as God's to-do list.  For us.  As we were bombarded all night with the encouragement to "Be the spark" that starts a fire for the betterment of our world, I couldn't help but wonder if people got it.  I mean, got IT.  The whole picture.  It was easy to agree with all that was being represented: people working together for a common good that is greater than the sum of all parts.  Who isn't motivated by that?  It's also easy to understand that this is GOOD.  It's pure; it's humanitarian; it's people at their best.  It's what is TRUE.  We SHOULD fight against injustice.  We SHOULD support every effort to end child labor and provide clean drinking water.  Those are no-brainers. 

     But do we really get the big picture?  To what end are we doing these things?  Where does this desire for GOOD come from?  The Bible says that "Every good and perfect gift is from above..." (James 1:17) and that "no one is righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10)  Good is from God.  All of this is His.  All that is true, all that is good, is from God.  I believe it's the God of the Bible.  It's the God of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, Noah, the Israelites, and many more.  I agree with the Archbishop that God wants to redeem humanity to Himself.  I agree with him that God sent Jesus as the only means by which to do that.  I also agree with him that God has and will continue to involve people (US) in the process.  There was only one doctrinal flaw of his that gave me theological heartburn: He stated that God needed people to do His work.  Um, God has no needs.  He chooses to use people in His plan to carry out His will.  Why that is the case, I will NEVER understand. 

     The bottom line is that Tacoma heard Truth last night.   From a man who has given his life to being the hands and feet of Jesus the best way he knew how.  I was privileged to encounter him.  He is now in my top 5 folks to spend a day with for sure.  I would like to be a spark that ignites God's fire in the world around me.  It was eternally impacting to hear from someone who has.