Saturday, December 18, 2010

Be all that you can be

"Be all you can be" was a recruiting ploy of the US Army several years back. The phrase has stuck with me, partly because I thought it to be a shameless -- and inaccurate marketing tool, but because it was good theology that had been placed in the wrong context.

Be all you can be. It could regarded as a paraphrase of Paul's last verses in the third chapter of Ephesians: "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).

It is an invitation to partner with a power that is available to us -- but which we will never fully understand. Be all that you can be -- BUT not on your own.

My favorite definition of vocation comes from Gail Godwin's novel Evensong. It is about two Episcopal priests who are married to each other. The husband says to his wife, "something is your vocation if it keeps making more of you."

To make more of us is God's desire. And the more that God wants to make of us is not the more of the culture -- more stuff, more recognition, more influence, more status. No, the more of vocation is to have a discipline that draws on the mysterious but abiding power of God -- which has an abundance that is more than we can ask or imagine. A power that reveals God's glory, and which can work for God's purpose in the world.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Dearly Beloved,

    Jesus Christ is referred too by many names in the Bible. I believe its a reflection of the omnipresence of The Holy Spirit. The Omnipresent One simultaneously manifests itself in a multitude of guises. The One Who Cannot Be Known is known only in part because the essence of the Omnipotent One is only understood and perceived as a subjective truth to the individual beholding the goodness of the Lord.

    My favored image of Jesus Christ is The Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is ever mindful, ever watchful, ever vigilant, ever present and always faithful. A sure and present helper to all the beloved. Jesus Christ as The Good Shepherd is revealed in the Gospel of John. John writes that The Good Shepherd has come so that we may have life, and live it abundantly.

    I celebrate the idea of an abundant life. I believe that the abundant life that Jesus promises is not marked by a life that is rich in the possession of things. I believe that Jesus is calling the beloved into a richer communion of relationship with God and with one another. Such an understanding of abundance seems to undermine the Calvinist capitalist ethos of a life based on hard work and acquisition. Today the prosperity theology of TV Evangelists stand on this precept as the driving principle of the Gospel of Jesus. Empowering the individual with a richness of material things will enable them to confer blessings upon others. I am uneasy about this definition of an abundant life. I think it panders to my selfishness and feeds my sense of radical entitlement at the expense of connected community and individual responsibility.

    I believe the abundant life Jesus asks us to live is a life marked by the richness of wholesome relationships. An abundant life honors the sacredness of relationships. It abhors exploitation and greed. Its principle aim to affirm spiritual wellness. Its work seeks to build and maintain relationships by fortifying the foundations of trust.

    The sacramental life that Jesus calls us to is based on service to one another. It is found in the everyday common transactions of human relations. Our experience of God is found in the earthly transactions when brothers and sisters offer a willing hand, an eager ear and an open heart to fellow human beings. I heard a Bishop once say to love wastefully. I take this wisdom to mean to be fearless in your witness by casting your love upon others expecting nothing in return other then to connect with other in the unity of an unconditional love. Such richness is a treasure that moths cannot eat nor rust defile. Investing time, talents and being present for others is the joyous experience of a sacramental life. It is the perfect return of a life lived in rich abundance.

    The Good Shepherd calls for the lost and found to gather as one. Led by love the spiritual wellness of all the beloved are affirmed and celebrated in the unity of this Holy Spirit.


    Peace and prayers to all the beloved,



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.