"Only when we know we're nothing will God make something out of us."
My father’s words rang true in my childhood mind. But, I only vaguely understood what they meant. The song "Jesus Loves Me" and the phrase "we are weak, but He is strong" came to mind. I just didn't realize, at the time, how weak, how "nothing," we really are.
Physically, we're dependent upon God for every essential breath we take. Just imagine if we had to consciously inhale every time we needed oxygen, fifteen times a minute. Falling asleep would be a death sentence. Now then, consider the air around us, just the right combination of critical elements and the atmospheric pressure needed to expand our lungs. Consider the programs in our body systems designed to maintain homeostasis. Consider the balance in the natural world created by God to support the life we know.
The evolutionist claims this all just happened by chance. Fat chance, I say. I see no room for so-called free will in the material world, no control over our environment, no ability to regulate our own bodily functions. And, still, some think "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." (Invictus by William Henley) What pathetic arrogance!
If we are this helpless in necessities for survival, it makes sense to me that we are equally vulnerable in the spiritual dimension. We can claim nothing of our own. Everything is pure gift, not just "offered," but provided for us by our Creator, Redeemer and Comforter. "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." --Matthew 5:45 ESV Nothing we do affects the sun's shining or the rain falling. We don't merit more of it if we are "just," and we "deserve" no less if we are unjust. And, that’s the point of the blood of Jesus. It covers the undeserved all.
While the body-of-Christ commission is to proclaim the Good News, sadly we hear too much bad news, a message of bondage to fear: "You're lost, you're a sinner, you have to repent, you have to believe, you have to change your life, you have to clean yourself up, you have to accept what Jesus did for you. You have to get saved!" As if we have ability to do anything of the sort!
The Gospel is just the opposite. It takes our eyes off our hopeless self and turns our eyes upon Jesus! The message of the angels is the message for the world: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people...a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord...." --Luke 2:10-11 KJV
As a young adult I read this scripture, one day, with new attentiveness:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. "On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' "And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'...." --Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
Wow! I thought, if even casting out demons in Jesus' name is no guarantee you're in God's will, then what is? With a sense of alarm, I delved into a word search on the "will of the Father." (I highly recommend it. One of my favorite discoveries: "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." --Matthew 18:14)
When we are tempted to think more highly of ourself and our abilities (as apparently those “workers of lawlessness“ are), we might remember that even Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing…." --John 5:30
When God's Word gets ahold of us, it is He who works in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." He fills us up and sends us out to overflow that Word into the hearts and lives of others. It's His work that His Word accomplishes. We are nothing more than the earthen vessels, jars of clay, cracked pots leaking the Living Water into the parched earth all around us, where it continues to go to work, transforming lives and bearing fruit for the Kingdom.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." --2 Corinthians 4:7
"For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh." --Philippians 3:3