Bishop Eric Menees
Last Sunday I was taken with the comment by St. Paul to the church in Corinth: “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.” (1 Cor. 2:3) Somehow I find it hard to picture St. Paul going anywhere in “weakness,” “fear” or “much trembling.” In my mind's eye I picture St. Paul as an imposing figure – certainly he was imposing when he was directing the persecution of the followers of Jesus. Certainly he was imposing as a rabbi in charge of orthodoxy. Certainly he was imposing as he traveled from city to city, preaching the word of God even in the face of persecution.
So, how do I reconcile his confession of being weak and afraid with the image of the imposing preacher from Tarsus? Well, the answer is found in that old phrase, “Fake it ‘till you make it.” I have no idea where of acting as if you have confidence – courage – strength, and that God blesses that willingness and amazing things can happen.
I suspect that is true for me. If you’ve known me long, you know that I never felt like I was properly prepared or equipped to be a bishop. Every time I lead a retreat, speak in public, or address the College of Bishops I think: “Who am I, to be here and address these people?” I find it miraculous that God uses me to His Glory when I step out in faith and act for the Lord.
Ultimately, I suspect that a better phrase than the secular “Fake it ‘till you make it,” is “Step out in faith as a servant of the Most High God!” Over and over again in scripture, the people who step out in faith are the ones who make a difference in history and in the lives of others, because God uses them for His glory!
I think of Moses, who declared to God that he was no speaker! I think of Peter, who upon meeting Jesus declares, “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man.” I think of St. Paul, who declares he was weak and approached in fear and trembling.
Thanks be to God for those men and for each one of you in the Diocese of San Joaquin, who step up and step out in faith. It is when we take those first steps that the Lord can use us, and indeed he does. All across the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Lord uses our people to love those who feel unlovable – to feed the hungry – to cloth the naked – to visit the sick and dying with the Good News of Jesus Christ, who cried out to his father: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
How is the Lord calling you to ignore your weakness, your fear and trembling, and step out in faith? I promise, if you do step up to the plate, He will use you for His Glory!
I pray you all a very blessed week!
Thirty-nine Articles of Religion
XII. Of Works before Justification
Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.