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  • Eric Marshburn

October 2021 Eric's Ethereal Cereal

One of my former seminary professors at Duke used to say quite often and with much passion and inspiration, “God has created each of us by intention with intention. This is not intended to be a ‘mere play on words’, but rather a faith-statement.”

To be created by intention is to believe that God is not the absentee clock-maker; not One who displays great creative powers but has no particular affection for the creation. To believe that God creates the ordered world, and human beings within that ordered existence, is to say something significant, about God and human beings. In short, it is to believe that the intention behind the act of creation is good intention. It is to believe that God’s ultimate purposes for the human family are at their heart rooted in an atmosphere of grace.

To be created with intention is to believe that God does not exist to serve our whims and wishes, but that we (humanity) exist for purposes that move well beyond our own self-serving. In sum, to be created with intention speaks of a Divine-human partnership, some might say a conspiracy, which transcends the empty quest for accumulating more, replacing this desire with purpose. Jesus speaks of this to his first followers when he says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” John 15:6a

My professor’s remarks remind us of another passage when Jesus says to that same rag-tag band of on-again-off-again followers: “You are the light of the world.” Later he adds, “You are the salt of the earth.” I can’t help noticing that Jesus is using present tense language with the disciples. There’s no hint of, “Well, one day – when you get your act together – then maybe, just maybe I will be able to refer to you as light without laughing about it.” There is no whiff of Jesus saying, “If you keep at it – study hard – complete all your assignments then I’ll see to it that you become like preserving, flavor-filled salt for an otherwise quickly-fading and spice-less creation.” It’s there – in black and white – Jesus said ARE, not MAYBE; NOW not sometime in the distant future.

So what’s standing in the way of Jesus’ declaration becoming reality? I’m afraid it may just be – ourselves. What keeps our lamps under bushels instead of visible and bright? What keeps us from bringing God’s seasoning to the stew of life? The answer is somewhere in the mirror for me. Becoming salt and light takes more than gritting our teeth and pressing on with white-knuckled determination. The Scriptures declare that we find our purpose in relationship, not in tricks or even working a bit harder. Light??? Salt??? These are who we become as we embrace just who, and WHOSE we are, in Christ. Jesus has called us to “bear fruit” NOT produce it. Our role (if we live into our salt and light calling) is to abide in Christ. He is quite capable of producing the fruit – even without us, but because he loves us, he empowers us to “bear” the fruit of his love and offer it to any and all. Call me crazy, but that sounds like PURPOSE to me.

Blessings & Peace,

Pastor Eric

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