It’s an old adage, “give credit where credit is due.” It’s easy to abide when I’m writing an academic paper and I can add a footnote to properly credit my sources. But in life, it’s harder. Sometimes, it’s especially hard to give God credit.
According to the Gospel of Luke, there was a time when Jesus sent 70 people to go “ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go” (Luke 10:1). He told them to go, offer peace, cure the sick, and proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 10:2-11). They did! And when they came back, they joyfully reported: “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” (Luke 10:17).
Wait. Who did the bad guys submit to?
The 70 were jubilant in reporting that they made demons submit to them. In response, Jesus says, “do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
I hear Jesus saying, “give credit where credit is due.”
Jesus told the 70 before they left, “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me” (Luke 10:16). In other words, before the 70 left Jesus told them it wasn’t about them. He says, in effect, if you are accepted, it isn’t about you; if you are rejected, it isn’t about you.
Whether they were accepted or rejected, they were to say the same thing to the people they encountered: “The kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 10:9-11).
The healing wasn’t about those 70 individuals sent by Jesus; it was about the kingdom of God.
This is still true now. I fail to give credit where credit is due when it comes to God. Sometimes I don’t recognize that God is at work.
I forget to look for God because the problem is too small or too routine. Sometimes I can’t see how God is at work because the problem is too big, too overwhelming. Other times, I fail to see how God is at work because I’m so entrenched in my own self-sufficiency.
The story of the 70 who are sent out by Jesus reminds me that it’s okay to look for God in the small things (if God can handle demons, God can handle the little things in my life).
The story of the 70 also teaches me it’s okay to look for God in the ordinary, even mundane parts of life. Instead of thinking, “everyone goes through this,” I can proclaim to myself: the kingdom of God has come near!
I can acknowledge that God walks through the ordinary with me, and that makes it extraordinary.
It’s okay to exchange self-sufficiency for reliance on God. Jesus told the 70 they shouldn’t carry a purse, a bag, or extra sandals (Luke 10:4). In other words, I can stop carrying all my old baggage around with me!
I can, and should, give God credit when I see goodness, healing, or redemption happening. All goodness comes from God and redemption is God’s calling card.
Jesus went to the Cross in the ultimate act of redemption. He took human violence and redeemed it in his resurrection. He took our separation from God and redeemed it in his resurrection. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are all about redemption.
The kingdom of God has come near. We can proclaim it.
What about you? Have you seen examples of goodness, healing or redemption that are reminders that the kingdom of God has come near? Do you give God credit for the goodness in the world and in your life? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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