Day 38: A Responsible Surrender
Barnabas and Saul Commissioned
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
As we continue to look through the book of The Acts of the Apostles, one thing is becoming very clear, “nothing begins without the initiation of the Holy Spirit (13:2–3). Barnabas and Saul are ‘set apart’ for a new stage of mission. As usual, they are not ‘free agents’ moving at their own initiative. This new step in outreach has been declared by the Spirit and confirmed by the church through fasting, praying, and laying-on-of-hands.” (Willimon, Acts, 122)
The apostles are not “free agents.” They have a leader. So how do we reconcile this with the gift of free will? I think this is where a lot of the confusion about how we understand what it means to say we have faith really means. Richard Rohr in his book A Spirit Within Us (195) talks about the need to “both take responsibility (action) and surrender (contemplation).” This is what Dianne Martin and I mean when we say to pray, act, and pray again.
The good works of this world are not entirely human initiation. There is a spiritual component to goodness, and I believe it comes from God. People may have other names for the initiation of goodness, and I understand and respect that. It does not surprise me, since God created us with unique abilities and that diversity is evident it the different denominations/sects that have been formed in all of the major religions. So free will is what allows us to have both the ability to act and to surrender. A healthy community of faith will pray with us and for us and help us discern when we need to take responsibility and to surrender. Have you discovered the need to take responsibility and to surrender to God? Is there a community of faith that prays with you and for you?
Prayer Recap: Dear Lord, Your Holy Spirit speaks to each of us individually and corporately. Help us to discern when we hear Your voice, what is our responsibility and what we need to surrender. Amen.