In your own life, how often have you been asked to show initiative? Maybe when you were growing up by your parents? Perhaps by teachers, especially in University where it is necessary. Definitely by employers where it is expected. I know I have definitely have, and by all of these people. Often, it was something that expected, and missing an opportunity for initiative was something to get in trouble for.
With friends, I doubt they would ever ask you to show initiative, especially within your relationship with them, however, unless initiatives are taken, the friendship can't grow, so it is completely necessary, but not forced by any matter.
So where does initiative sit in our relationship with God? I was born into a Catholic family, went to a Catholic school, received all my sacraments and such, and my first real experience of God was in a summer camp that I attended, so there was no real initiative on my behalf in my faith journey, just lots of opportunities to reply to God's invitation. But, wherever we are, and whatever your circumstances are in coming to the faith (or if you aren't in the faith), ultimately God has already taken the initiative for us. Quoting George Eldon Ladd, "In Jesus, God has taken the initiative to seek out the sinner, to bring the lost into the blessing of his reign."
God has taken the initiative in our relationship with him, and it is our duty to open the door that he is metaphorically knocking on, and once we do, we welcome him to be a part of our lives.
So what about the Disciples? These are the people that literally lived, travelled and ministered with Jesus. When you're standing with God as man here on Earth, where did that leave them in regards to initiative?
An excellent reflection I read a few months ago in my daily readings book was of Jesus feeding the 5000. The disciples ask for Jesus to send the people away so that they travel into the nearby villages to gain shelter and food. Jesus responds "You give them something to eat." We can see by looking at the different Gospels (Fun fact: this is the only miracle to be recorded in all 4 gospels) that this was intended as a test for Philip. In Mark and John we hear the disciples' protest: "That would take thousands of dollars! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
Logistically, it is a massive problem, and the disciples must be feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of this problem. That is when we read this in John's Gospel. "Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up and said, 'here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?' "
Jesus forces them to look for what they do have, rather than what they don't. And from within this incredibly meager offering, Jesus offers the bread to his Father in heaven, and feeds the 5000, and there is even left overs.
You can see similar times when people take initiative with Jesus, or respond to his offers. When he cures the lepers, lets the blind see, helping at the wedding of Cana, and I could go on. It is all throughout scripture, we see Jesus offering opportunities for people to respond, and continues to reveal to them God's desire to be in a relationship with them personally. He is really persistent that we understand our need of God's infinite generosity, mercy and love, but also that God wants to give it to us.
When we respond to Jesus, when we open the door or answer his call in our lives, whatever meager offering it is that we make, it will be multiplied a hundredfold. God extended the offer for redemption through sending his only son to earth. He took the initiative, and it is our duty to respond to him.
When Jesus offers us chances to respond, to take a step towards him, and to simply have faith, do it. God's taken his initiative, now take yours.
This reflection was written by Nick, who is primarily a movie buff, but does enjoy himself some sweet beats too. His muse is, well Muse, as well as Cat Empire. He used to play in a Big Band & an Orchestra, and is currently learning bass guitar. No, he can't slap bass yet. Soon.