Good simple words. Profound life-anchoring faith.

I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

 – Philippians 4:18-23


Red Winged Blackbird | Anahuac NWR | May 2020

Fragrant offering. Acceptable sacrifice. Riches in Glory. These are major concepts and expressions of big faith. But Paul does not use words like prevenient grace, omnipotence, or omniscience in these verses. All those words are important and loaded with theological gravitas. They’re good words. These words are important. He is capable of using big words, and on other occasions he does (like the whole book of Romans, and parts of his letters to the Corinthian church).

I mention this because of an insight Diane shared with me recently. She’s reading a book by Tony Evans, Oneness Embraced. He points out that the black church in early America did not use freighted theological terms. They were not allowed to be educated. They were excluded from formal seminary education. So they didn’t lean on these theological nuances.

But they did lean on the profound truths of God. They didn’t necessarily speak of God’s sovereignty, but they knew and believed that, “You can’t get over Him. You can’t get under him. You can’t get around Him. There was no place too high for God to inhabit, nor any place so low he could not occupy.”  When it came to God’s God’s omnipotence, they simply said, “There is nothing my God cannot do!”

Have we traded simple, deep, visceral, and life-changing faith for theological constructs and theological platitudes? I hope not. I tend away from them myself. Yet I think there is something to learn from our formerly-oppressed brothers and sisters in Christ. They lived their faith in ways that are real and life-anchoring.

I don’t want to idolize these people. They had their faults and failures same as we all do. But I wonder if we might be better off speaking more from our hearts about life these days. Maybe we could say, “God will take care of you whether you’re in the hospital or at the graveside. God is with you whether you wake in the dark of night worried about your retirement or rise up early only to sit on a Zoom call for hours and hours on end. God’s got this,” we can say.

Paul says it this way, “My God will supply all your needs.” Good simple words. Profound life-anchoring faith.

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