Some Things Can’t Do Some Things
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. – Romans 4:13 (NRSV)
We love the things we build, us humans. Like parents with their children, we’re just so enamored with the works of our hands: our products, our relationships, our institutions, our religions. But parents who rely on their offspring for the wrong things—fulfilling their parents’ emotional needs, giving meaning to their parents’ lives, saving their marriages—find that their children always ultimately fail in these tasks. Such tasks are beyond children’s powers, and it is unfair to ask them of children.
This is Paul’s point, too. No human creations, no matter how mighty the inspiration that created or sustains them, can do what God can. They may be shot through with love and power, but they are not God. If we ask them to do things beyond their powers, they will fail at them.
Many of us have spent—will spend—a lot of time fighting for political parties and candidates. This is good; we should do that. Nevertheless, there are things they will never be able to do.
Many of us spend a lot of time throughout our lives on our religions. This is good; we should do that. Nevertheless, there are things they will never be able to do.
They may be able to fulfill short-term promises—but not eternal ones. They may love us—but that love will always be conditional, imperfect. They may tell us about salvation—they may even be able to point to it—but the things we create will never be the things that finally save us.
For your promises beyond our abilities, and for having the power to keep them, thank you. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.