At a men’s retreat outside Spokane, Washington this weekend I began my talks with the laptop metaphor that inspired Friday’s Catch. Using my Apple laptop as a prop, I started, as I did Friday’s Catch, with the Apple logo facing me and then snapped my fingers in disgust as I realized I had it upside down, turned the laptop around, opened it and prepared to commence writing.
I pointed out that the logo, like my faith, was situated so that others could see it even when I couldn’t. This is the way God works through us. It is not in our golden moments when we are putting our best foot forward, but in all moments of every day. I then buried my face in the computer, typing away so that only the lid could be seen with the familiar apple, and talked about how I was working on my life while they were seeing only my faith.
Suddenly I realized how real this was. How Christ can be made visible in our lives even when we can’t see Him, and He is seen by nature if the fact that He is there all the time. Paul says that we always cast the fragrance of the knowledge of Him wherever we go, and this goes on in spite of what is happening in our lives.
I am clinging to this truth; otherwise I would have nothing to give you. That is because I am so far from being a finished product. I am more and more aware of my shortcomings as I grow older and face into the things I have long neglected. If my worth to you as a minister of the Gospel is predicated on how good of an example I set for you in all things, then I would have to hang up my office now, for I am an imperfect vessel. And yet Christ lives in me. And in spite of my life I have been gifted for your sake.
This is not to excuse irresponsibility; it is to acknowledge that as unfinished products, we are what God has to work with, and our example is found not in the absence of failure, but in facing it, learning from it and growing through it.
And through all of it — the good and the bad — there is Christ in the midst.
Paul says that we are carrying around both the death of Christ and the life of Christ at the same time (2 Corinthians 4:10). Well I think I might understand what the life of Christ would be that I carry around, but what about the death of Christ? What would that be? That would be everything Christ died to get rid of that’s still hanging around, like this body and its sin nature. Think about it: This “body of death” is the only thing God has to put His Spirit in. So it’s in the contrast between the two that shows His power, and this is the paradox we live with. Always the contrast so there is no doubt where the power is coming from.