“The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you because power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Can God use us, imperfect humans, with all our warts and blemishes, with all our past sins and scars, with all our miss-steps and frailties? How can the imperfect be of service to the Perfect One?
Are we good enough? Can we measure up?
Top of mind would be, of course not. We’re frail. We’re human. We fail. None of us is perfect. But because of what God has done for us, because of Christ who died for us, because of the Spirit within us, that’s not the final answer. The second and truest answer is, yes, we are enough and so much more.
Christ’s purpose-driven life was constantly arousing the curiosity of onlookers. Whether His followers or His enemies, people were so impressed with Him, or, in some cases, intimidated by Him, that they wanted to know how and why He had it all together so they asked Him questions. Jesus used these questions as great teaching platforms from which we all benefit. From His answers we not only learn how to live our lives on purpose as He did, but we also realize how a purpose driven life brings harmony and satisfaction to our human existence.
In the parable of the ten Virgins or bridesmaids (Mathews 25:1-13); the story of the bridesmaids is sometimes a difficult one for us to understand. The custom of the bridesmaids ushering in the bridegroom into the feast is foreign to us, uncommon in our modern day wedding traditions. Let’s focus in on verse 13. Jesus has finished telling the parable. Jesus has concluded the story-telling and is now offering one line of clarification. It’s no hidden secret that the disciples and the Pharisees had trouble understanding the parables Jesus told. They often were left speechless, left in state of conviction or confusion (often a mixture of both). So Jesus offers this one line to help shape their understanding of the parable.
He says, “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Jesus, in his explanation of the parable, doesn’t even draw attention to the fact that some had less oil and some had more. He doesn’t seem to care about who had lit lamps when the bridegroom returned. When you consider the parable, all ten women showed up with lit lamps, and all ten women fell asleep. But Jesus’ teaching says that what made the difference, what allowed five to enter the feast and five to be left out, had to do with alertness.
Jesus, in summarizing the parable, is calling us to be in a state of alertness – we need to be prepared to see the dangers that may lie around us. We often hear this parable as calling the five women foolish because they weren’t prudent enough to bring extra oil. We think them foolish because they weren’t quite prepared well enough. We allow ourselves to give into the normative reading that says they were foolish because they just didn’t have what they needed.
Jesus doesn’t seem to name that narrative as foundational. Jesus doesn’t say they were foolish because they didn’t have enough. Of course they had enough. The bridegroom was already there – he was visible in the distance. He was nearly upon them. Perhaps they were foolish, not because they had too little, but because they were too busy comparing their lamps to the lamps of the others. They were foolish because they let someone else tell them they didn’t have enough.
Perhaps they were foolish because they let someone else convince them they needed to go get more. They were foolish because the bridegroom was returning to escort them into the feast, and they weren’t alert enough to the dangers that were calling them to doubt themselves. They were foolish because they were awake, ready, and present – and they gave in to the voice of someone else, who convinced them they weren’t good enough.
The world wants us to jump through hoops to prove we are enough and we are worthy. But God has already made us to be enough exactly as we are.
You are enough.
We are enough.
You are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God. You are good enough just as you are. You have everything you need, gifted to you by the gracious love of God. To be part of the feast, to be part of the celebration, to join in the eternal joy of the presence of our Bridegroom, you do not need to be perfect as our society seeks to define perfect, you just need to know who it is that created you perfectly.
I invite you today to break free from the chains of our society that would call you to go out and be more, do more, have more; be alert to any who says you aren’t good enough. For truly, as we sit here in the presence of God, God speaks into each of your lives and says, You Are Enough.Rejoice, and celebrate at the feast of the Lord.
There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. There is nothing you can do to make God love you less.
You are enough, already, to be God’s – simply because you already are. There is more joy in heaven over making a connection with one imperfect sinner, one person who still has room to grow and learn and change and develop, than over 99 perfect drones. Why? Because we imperfect creatures belong to God. We are treasured by God, even when we’ve wandered away and rolled in the mud and smell bad and need to be cleaned up.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Reading this passage in light of that, it occurs to me that this is the story of the Incarnation: God putting God’s heart here among us, because it is here that God’s treasure is, because God’s treasure is us. And the one doing the treasuring and the searching and the finding is not us.
It frees us to return to the role for which we were made; to love God, and love the person we find next to us, and to be co-creators with God in the world that God has set in motion. Because we don’t have to be or do perfect, because the world doesn’t depend on us. Our salvation doesn’t depend on us. We are freed to need each other, to need God, to live in response to God instead of in desperation for God’s approval. And because we know that God is a persistent seeker, and that God takes joy in running after and after imperfect beings, it means we can co-create out of love and joy in God, taking breaks and trying things and taking risks and trying again, secure in our place at God’s table.
You are, I am, every one of us is already enough to be love by God. God’s grace is enough for you. For the real you. Not for you who wears the mask of “Oh, everything’s fine” at church. Not for you who only presents the best parts of yourself on facebook because everyone else there also seems so perfect. Not for you who sells yourself short. God’s grace is enough for the real you, flaws and all.
“The Spirit and the bride (the church) say, ’Come’..Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17).
We are good enough in Christ to serve God!” Come to Him today.