Just a few short weeks ago, I taught my first VBS class. 18 third and fourth graders arrived for 5 full mornings or fun and learning about Christ. What surprised me most was discovering that at the tender age of 8 and 9, people can already be hostile towards the Gospel.
One little boy quickly became known for the phrase “not me!”
When we spoke about Jesus healing people and asked if anyone could think of a time they were hurt or sick and wished to feel better, he’d pipe up “not me!” He explained that he believed the concept of sin is mean. Through explanations about grace, and sin’s effect on the whole world, and even God’s love for us, he remained steadfast in his proclamations “not me. Not me, I don’t want that.”
At the end of the week, my husband took a turn sharing the Gospel. He had heard how much these kids loved sports and competition, so He began to explain how, to play a sport, there had to be rules. To win the sport, you had to follow the rules well. That meant knowing the rules, which meant learning from someone who taught them and enforced them. He highlighted how God wasn’t “mean” for enforcing the rules because if he didn’t, no one could win.
The little guy was listening intently. He tried to say not me and explain all of the reasons he didn’t need rules and rules ruined everything. But when my husband said “and I know I never wanted rules. I wanted to play my own way. Lots of us just want to do we want…” Mr. Not Me shouted out “THAT’s ME!”
And the lesson just went on…
“If we never learn the game or the rules, we’re never really playing with anybody else…we never have a chance to do well because no one can say if we’re doing well. We also never really get to win…”
That got his attention. And mine, too.
We do live in a world that is all about “me.” Every day we’ve got the option to say “not me” and live our own way. That way might require denial, rebellion, isolation, determination, and much more to make it work.
But we don’t see it that. Rarely do we realize how often we say “not me” to the Lord.
When his standards seem too hard, we say “not me, I’ve got grace” instead of trying to meet those difficult expectations. Like Mr. Not Me, we’d often rather live with all sorts of brokenness pretending it doesn’t exist than say “Lord, I’m not sufficient but you are.”
We’re especially quick to find excuses, too. “Not me, I don’t gossip. I just have to talk about this person because otherwise (insert excuse).”
Here’s what we miss:
- · Opportunities for the Lord to heal what is broken
- · Growth through challenges instead of simply surviving them
- · Chances to discover that when we try –and fail- grace is sufficient after all
- · Room to see how God can overcome even the “me” parts we despise
- · A salvation free from guilt, fear, and an obsession over “earning our own way” because it has nothing to do with "me" and everything to do with Him.
Our Lord isn’t a Lord who worries about “me” or “not me” –He can use us either way. His concern isn’t with our lacks or our strengths, but His glory. We don’t need to feel shame or overcompensate for it with excuses and self-enforced failures and suffering.
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)
Remember who came first, who created you, and who knows: God.
The one who not only set the rules and picked you to play and coach, but who set you up as you are, too. There’s no room, and no need, for “not me” with the one who made “me.”
The victory is His, and it's won already. Rejoice that you are on His team and trust in his gameplay. Because "not me, I can't, and I won't, lose this race."