Mike Glenn’s concluding chapter in The Gospel of Yes wraps up all the loose ends in the book by looking at the way the apostle Paul heard Christ’s “Yes” to him. Glenn focuses on Paul’s ability to find contentment in the midst of a chaotic, even dangerous, life. Most twenty-first century Christians would probably love to experience that same contentment, even though the cultural philosophy dominated by secular thinking would certainly scorn contentment. Reading The Gospel of Yes many readers will, no doubt, find themselves conflicted by this attitude. After all, how does a person motivate himself to pursue important goals if he is content?
The cultural conflict between the life Christ offers and the life the culture admires keeps Christians on edge. Most Christians would probably say that they would not be comfortable to seek contentment. They need the edge, the prod, of discontent with things as they are. They feel that they might settle for less than their best if they ever felt content.
Mike Glenn probes that issue and reduces it to two points that define Paul’s contentment. First, “Paul remained faithful to his calling, the “yes” of his destiny” (p. 202) and second, “Paul was able to see himself in the big picture of what Christ was doing in the world.” (p. 202) Paul’s contentment was not about being content with the way things were; Paul was content because he was doing what he was created to do in Christ’s redemptive plan.
Paul experienced what Christ’s followers always experience when they find the “yes” of their destiny. Someone doing what he or she was created to do, living in a faithful, rich relationship with Christ, feels a deep contentment that transcends the pandemonium of twenty-first century life. Christ’s followers are highly motivated to pursue excellence in their callings, but they are not driven to succeed in competition with others to achieve the goals set by the culture. A major blessing of knowing your calling is the gift of being able to filter the call to conflict and the distractions of other people’s goals out of the input you absorb. Paul didn’t have a Blackberry, but he was a well-educated and well-traveled man. Roman culture had very strong pressures toward the Roman concept of success, and Paul had the intellect and character to be that kind of a success. Yet he was content with his work in Christ’s kingdom, because he was fulfilling his destiny, his “yes” in Christ.
Every person has such a destiny. Every person has that destiny from the moment of conception. Every aborted baby had a destiny in God’s eyes. Just as God knew David and Jeremiah from before they were conceived, God knows all those aborted babies.
Christians face a real challenge in the secular culture. Secular thinking alleges to believe that humans are the pinnacle of evolution in the universe, but secular thinking permits even human beings to be classified as expendable. By secular standards, some humans don’t deserve to live. A baby conceived at an inconvenient time or in inconvenient circumstances becomes disposable, a minor inconvenience, or perhaps a threat to other goals. Secular thinking declares many personal and social goals to take precedence over the value of a baby.
God doesn’t see it that way. Every human being is conceived by God’s grace with a unique purpose in God’s plans. Every human being is loved and known by God before he or she is conceived. Every person is part of the big picture of what Christ is doing in the world. Many circumstances conspire against a long healthy life for anyone, but in God’s eyes, there is a unique “yes” for each person. Each person who hears Christ’s “yes” is invited to live in lifelong contentment that transcends all the conflict and distraction and danger and hardship and simple clutter that is part of the culture. Paul heard God’s announcement of all the things he would suffer for Christ’s name, and when he said “yes,” he became content. Each of us has that opportunity just as Paul did. Every one of us is loved by God so much that Christ died to give us the life that is richly content in the midst of madness.
This chapter is a fitting conclusion to The Gospel of Yes. There can be no greater contentment than to know that each one of us matters to God, and each one of us has a place in Christ’s redemptive work in the world. The richest blessing any of us will ever receive happens when we say “yes” to Christ’s “yes” for us.
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