If someone were to ask you if you trust God, what would your response be? If someone were to ask me this question, I would almost immediately answer with something along the lines of “yes, of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?” I might even be offended that someone would question such a thing. However, lately, I have found it a bit more difficult to answer with as much quick confidence. Lately, my mind cannot help but drift to all the things that are seemingly going wrong in the world. I believe Jesus is on the throne, but that is not stopping me from worrying about the pandemic. I believe that God is trustworthy, but that has not kept me from wondering if good will prevail in the midst of such chaos. I believe God is in control, but yet, I still attempt to control all the events of my life.
In these thoughts, I am reminded of John 6. This chapter holds a lot of well-noted events of the Bible. Just in this one chapter, there is the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus’ famous “I am the bread of life” metaphor, and Jesus walking on water and calming a raging storm (6:1-14,29, 16-21). Then, we come to a moment when Jesus is met by a crowd of people after He arrives at the shore. As per usual, the crowd has a lot of questions for Him. One being, “What should we do to be doing the work of God?” Personally, if I had no anticipation of how Jesus would actually respond, I would think the “correct” answer would be something like “How about you get to work on getting your act together? I am coming back soon, you know—time is ticking.” However, Jesus responds with something almost completely opposite. When asked what to do when seeking to do the work of God, Jesus says to “believe in the One He has sent” (6:29).
My tendency to overcomplicate things does not love this type of response. I would prefer a much more formulaic answer, one that can direct my every step, one that can provide specific answers to the problems we are facing in this hour. But as Jesus usually does, He does not give us the answers to our questions in the way that we expect or even in the way we initially hope. He often responds in a way that is so profound that it can seem overly simplistic. If you want to know how to do the work of God in this season, if you are questioning how we can continue to be the light of the world when it feels like darkness is caving in, all Jesus requires is that you “believe in the One He has sent.”
Pentecostal theologian, Fredrick Dale Brunner speaks on this scriptural passage and provides some insight that could really change our lives if we let it. In his comments on John 6, Brunner states that a translation to modern times would read something like “relax in the One He has sent.” He goes on to say that “relaxing in Jesus is a good modern translation of trusting in or believing in. We relax by allowing ourselves to be held by Him regardless of the storms or situations we find ourselves in.”
I think most of us can agree that the year 2020 could pretty well classify as a storm of sorts. Never have I seen such mass dissension, division, and fear. Between a pandemic, severe racial tension, and an abnormally heated presidential election, the last thing I thought to do was relax. How could one?
Honestly, if I were to have a face-to-face conversation with Jesus today, I would likely ask similar questions to that of the crowd. “Jesus, how can I make a difference in these times? How can I be a proponent of peace when it feels like the world is in such disorder? What can I do to do your work when everything is falling apart?” Now, I am certain that if I know Jesus, He would have given me a very similar response. “Relax. Trust me. Let me be me.”
I want to encourage you today—if you find yourself in a situation that has left you feeling powerless to make any sort of change, relax in the One who has been sent to us. We often hear the word “unprecedented” used in relation to the age in which we live. I think that may be true in some ways, but often that word can leave us feeling afraid, uncertain, or worried that we will not make it through. While we face great difficulty, we face nothing “unprecedented” to God. We may feel powerless, but I think that can actually be a good thing. In the limitations of our ability, may we be reminded of the power of the One sent to us.
When we relax in Jesus—when we allow ourselves to live confidently in the work that He has done and is doing now—the natural byproduct is that we love people better, we work harder and more diligently, we share God’s love with the people of the earth, and we live a life authentically in Christ. When we relax in Jesus, we are not bound by our attachments to false identity and we no longer have to put up a front of perceived strength because we have let go of the responsibility to have all the answers. When we believe in the One He has sent, we are doing the work of God, and we can trust that He will do His work in us. It is safe to relax in Jesus today.
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