The need to give up what you’re really good at …
Actor Nicolas Cage stars in a rather dark movie called “Lord of War,” in which he plays the role of a weapons dealer.
In the movie, he sells all kinds of weapons to just about anyone, including opposing sides and even to his country’s enemies. So swept up in what he does, he even drags his younger brother into the business with him.
His endeavors are wildly successful, making him a wealthy man. But there’s one problem — his wife, who he loves, doesn’t know what he does for a living. When she finally finds out, she wants him to quit. It’s obvious Cage’s character knows what he does is wrong, now with his wife begging him to quit, he wrestles a little with his conscience.
“We have enough,” she says to him.
“It’s not about the money,” he responds, “I’m good at it.”
Cage’s character built a successful, albeit evil, business simply because he was good at. Walking away from what he was good at seemed to be harder than dealing with the evil morass his work resulted in.
A very real reason why many people who actually do believe the Gospel message refuse to walk away from sin to serve a risen Savior is because they understand one thing about their sin — they’re good at!
It comes naturally to them, they feel competent at it, and it offers waves of temporary pleasure. They feel “safe” continuing to do what they know rather than take on a radical life change. They’re good at being a sinner!
Asking anyone to turn from what they’re good at (sin) to serve Jesus Christ is asking them to take up something they are incompetent at doing, at least on their own. For them to succeed at following Christ, they will literally have to be transformed by God, tutored in the Word by the Holy Spirit, and encouraged by a supportive faith family.
That’s a big expectation, especially considering how deep in each of us is the need to feel competent at something.
There’s probably no one who better understood this issue of competency more than the Apostle Paul. Prior to his conversion, Paul was a highly competent Pharisee; he was brilliant at being a religious leader. But when it came to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, Paul did not have self-generated confidence.
“We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to become ministers of his new covenant …Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold,” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6a, 12.
Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is a call to give up our core competence of sin, and allow God to make us competent in and through Christ. Through a confidence in God, we spend our lives growing in competence as children of God …
“But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord — who is the Spirit — makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image,” 2 Corinthians 3:16-18.
Are you confident that God is making you a competent disciple of Jesus Christ? Or are you still holding on to your core competency?