Matthew 28:18-20; Genesis 12:1-3
Today I am going to tell you a story. I think you will recognize it. It is not fiction, but the words are mine.
Once upon a time God made the world and all that we know of the universe, and so much more than we know! God’s own breath blew and shaped and gave life to all that is. It is made of all that God is.
God kept a close eye on how things were going on the little Dot of the universe we know as earth. God seemed particularly fond of this little Dot. God’s breath walked around on this Dot in the form of living beings and God got a real kick out of watching all the commotion. What interesting beings they were! From hippos to amoebas, from giraffes to platypus, from snakes to starfish – to humans. Humans. Yes, perhaps these were the strangest and most amusing of all.
But humans seemed to have a piece missing. God watched the amusing humans more closely for along time. Indeed it was true. They did indeed have a piece missing.
All the other animals knew how to take from the Dot exactly what they needed and no more. But humans didn’t seem to have this built-in boundary. They always wanted more than what they had. They would hoard, and steal, and even destroy what the other had, so thier own looked like more. Somehow, the “Enough Gene” seemed to be missing in the humans. It was amusing for a while, but before long, God could see that this was going to be a big problem – big enough to destroy all the humans, all the other beings, and even the beloved Dot in the universe. Something had to be done.
“Abram! Abram,” God called out. I have something for you to do. Why did God pick Abraham? Who knows! I think perhaps that God had been calling the names of all the humans and only Abraham heard. And that was a good beginning.
God said, “I have given you the missing Enough Gene which the human beings need so desperately. Because you have it, everyone on the Dot will be blessed.”
What is an “Enough Gene?” Abram asked.
“Hmmm.” God muttered. “How do I explain this?… I am not sure I can explain it, but I can help you get to know it as you use it. So let’s get started. Leave your house and your family, and all your stuff and come with me” (Genesis 12:1-2). I guess Abram did have the Enough Gene, because he left his home and country and followed God to a new place, trusting it would be Enough.
Down through the years, we have come to call this faith, or getting it right, righteousness. The Enough Gene is what it takes to trust that you can do the thing in front of you, even if it is hard, because you know that there will always be Enough. The Dot was built to do this. The Spirit-breath was in charge of making it happen.
The book of Hebrews describes it this way: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible” (Hebrews 11:1-3).
So God started a whole group of people with the Enough Gene. But a strange thing about the Enough Gene is that it has to be used in order to survive among the humans. If they don’t use it, it dies. So God gave them holy people to teach them about the Enough Gene. God gave them rituals. God gave them one great big amazing story, too – The story of Pharaoh letting them all out of slavery, and Moses leading them to an amazing land where they could thrive. There was even Enough food scattered on the desert floor every morning! “If this doesn’t give them Enough practice to keep the gene alive, what would?,” God thought.
But only a couple of people practiced using the gene and kept it alive. Even in this community which had all the pieces, they fell into competition and blame games. The good news, though, is that the Gene didn’t die. Finally, there was alive in the human beings the Enough Gene. It stayed alive in the generations following Abram, but it often went recessive 🙂 It just didn’t get practiced enough.
So God decided to come live on the Dot and show the human beings how to live with this amazing gene as a dominant rather than recessive trait.
Jesus was amazing! Before him were some pretty great Enough-Gene-dominant folks. Hebrews 11 lists lots of people with the dominant Enough Gene.
But Jesus…, what can we say? Jesus lived it! Jesus’ Enough Gene was so dominant that the recessive hoarding and hating genes just didn’t show up at all. They had no space or time in Jesus!
Jesus used the same method God did to pass on the Enough Gene. He called a bunch of men and women to follow him out of their normal lives, give it all up, to practice using the Enough Gene. Just like God called Abram. He gave them lots of lessons. “You feed them,” Jesus said when five thousand people were hungry. “Go to the villages and teach people about me, heal their sick, be at home among them.” “Come with me to watch and pray. No swords, just watch and pray. It will be Enough.”
Finally, Jesus called out the ultimate expression of Enough: “Into your hands, God, I give my spirit.” It is Enough. It is finished.
Jesus had planted the Enough Gene in so many people! Just before he left the Dot, he reminded them about what to do. “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:18-20). In other words, the Enough Gene is in you. Go teach everybody to use it too. This is what will save this little Dot in the universe of which God was especially fond.
And so we take up our task again today. Exercising the Enough Gene. Baptizing – letting people know they are included in God’s family on this little Dot in the universe, just like Jesus told us to do.
For the next weeks we will be re-examining the key teachings of Jesus. What were the teachings Jesus instructed us to live in this world, and to pass on to everybody else? How do we do it in our life and times?
Today, we begin at the end, with Jesus last words. So often, a person’s last words are what we remember and seem to be the words that speak a whole life. Last words are usually simple, streamlined and right to the point. Here Jesus says: “Go to everybody! Adopt them into God’s family by baptism. And as they grow up, teach them to live the way I taught you. Don’t forget that I am always with you. It is Enough.”
By the water of baptism, we are washed with Enough. By the water of baptism, that Enough Gene is awakened and brought to life. And that life is in community. We need each other to practice it. This is our family of Enough.
A family of Enough. What an interesting way to see our brothers and sisters in this place. We are Enough. Each one in this circle is Enough for us together to live on this little Dot in the universe. We are where the gene gets passed on to others who see us live in Enough, no matter how little that is. Because God’s life and love tie it all together.
The Lord’s Supper is an on-going reminder that we are fed from the essence of Jesus Christ. Every cell of our bodies is changed with the genetic make-up of Jesus, the Holy One, life of the Spirit, Creator of All. Today we eat at the table of Jesus. It is a family table. It is the place where we eat the same food and drink the same cup. It is what makes us family. In this moment we are energized at a cellular level to be the people who live God’s life in this world, on this Dot in the universe.