Raising a child is having a close encounter with potentiality. Potentiality is defined as a quality that can be developed to make someone or something better, and in humankind that quality is potential itself. We have been divinely created to become more than we are at birth, to grow and mature into something wholly different from an infant consumed with survival and unaware of the interconnectedness of the world. I caught of glimpse of this potentiality the other evening when I watched my five-year complete thirty-five addition problems, which I honestly was not sure he could do. He surprised me, and in doing so delighted me. Perhaps this academic triumph was foreshadowing of something to come, perhaps it was a fluke, but in that moment it was wonderful for just being what it was.
While human culture seeks to direct our potential into specific outcomes, i.e. economics, intellectual pursuits, and civic duty, Christ’s culture encourages us to direct our potential into specific persons, i.e. God, our neighbor, and the lost lambs of God. Both have communal implications, but only Christ’s culture is centered around interweaving our lives with our faith in order to manifest grace in world. We have a myriad of options available to us as we grow and mature, but we must make a conscious decision to pursue holiness. Every professing Christian has the potential to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, impacting the world around them and making tangible change in the lives of others, which ultimately draws others to Christ.
I catch glimpses of this all the time from my vantage point of the pastorate. I see it when a church member suddenly find their ministerial niche, applying their unique combination of gifts, graces, desire, and will to be a vessel of Christ for others. Like when one women decided to start a prayer shawl ministry that has outlasted her tenure at our church. I see it when someone risks embarrassment or being uncomfortable to greet someone and get to know them, eventually investing in them and becoming their companion in Christ. These small moments reveal potentiality, the possibility that something will happen or exist in the future, and the one who dives into the possible will be made better, holier than they began. Somewhere along the way in my life, God saw potentiality in me to be ordained clergy, calling me along a path I never knew could have been made mine. I would never have imagined I could ever be who I am today, and I am sure that I cannot fathom who God will help me to become before I pass away.
So it is that we must be vigilant for those moments that reveal potential. We must embrace them, as well as celebrate them. For even if a moment remains a flash in time, that it ever existed at all is a sign that God is working, moving in this world. Potential is about timing and opportunity, but it is also about desire and willingness. Are we committed enough to Christ to explore our potential? To push beyond our current boundaries and preconceived notions to explore what can be in us and because of us? The Church once embraced becoming so much more, and it grew until it spanned the globe with power and authority. But then much of that was abused or allowed to settle, rather than being reflected upon and pushed to grow bigger, go deeper. Now we are in a time of renewal or die, rediscover our holiness or waste away into obscurity. Every one of us who place our salvation in the nail pierced hands of Jesus Christ must seek to fulfill our potentiality with the help of God. All of us must join together to multiply our potential and pool our God-given means. This is bigger than any one denomination, or any single local church. Our mission is more than global, as it expands across time and space. There is the limitless potential through faith in Jesus Christ to radically change the word through radical love. Can you see it? Will you reach for it?