Saint Peter is credited with writing two letters, called 1 Peter and 2 Peter. In his second letter, which reads like a farewell discourse in faith, he starts with this phrase, Jesus, our Lord and Master, has gratuitously given us the divine ability/power of God toward life through the knowledge of the One-Who-Calls us through glory and virtue. (vs. 2-3, translation mine) The phrase, “gratuitously given,” is a favorite of mine. It means that we were given, without charge or payment, a free and voluntary ability and power to serve God in this life. Let’s let that sink in a bit. There is nothing we have to buy, download, or upgrade to serve the Lord. We already have it, gratuitously given.
This means we have all we need to do exactly what God wants us to do to serve him. And we have it in spades. I have shared with you before that everything Saint John’s needs is already here. Here’s an old church joke: The treasurer stood up and told the congregation, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is we have all the money we need to fund ministry. The bad news? It is still in your pockets.”
As I take my leave, I want you to know that you have all you need, if you believe Peter. Since he is, I think, speaking on behalf of Jesus and all that Peter has experienced walking with Christ it would probably be a mistake not to believe him. When there were five thousand people in a field who turned up to hear Jesus, Peter was concerned about food, yet Jesus said, you have all you need. It is here already. As it turns out, they had more than they needed. A gratuitous amount of bread was collected after everyone was full. Jesus sent the disciples out, two by two, and told them to carry nothing extra because everything they needed would be provided for them, and it was. Fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, the apostles gathered together and suddenly, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they found they had gifts upon gifts that they didn’t even know they had.
I could sail a boat before I had a license to drive a car. Dad taught me everything I needed to know and the boat was stocked with everything I needed. The rest consisted of going out and actually sailing. Years later, I found out that Dad would periodically check on me with binoculars from a high bluff overlooking Commencement Bay. We didn’t have cell phones back then, or even a ship-to-shore radio. Yet, there he was watching over me. God has given you everything you need to serve in the manner in which God has called you to serve. I won’t be here in person to see it but like my Dad watched me to make sure I was all right, I will hear of the good things you do to help others in the name of the Lord. Individually and as a corporate entity, we have been gratuitously given everything we need to serve; all we have to do is push off from the dock, and sail.