When I was in seminary, I had the opportunity to go to a church conference – I don’t even remember what the name of the conference was – as part of one of my classes. What I remember crystal-clear is that this was the first time I heard Erwin McManus speak. I remember being riveted and blown away by what Erwin had to say.
I remember going back to my commuter’s rez room at Knox College and writing these words, which I heard from Erwin that night, on the whiteboard on my front door: “The Church doesn’t exist for us. We ARE the church and we exist for the world!” (I think that is truer than ever in these strange days.)
It kind of revolutionized how I saw my faith, and my community of faith. It resonates with that meme I posted during Holy Week, which said that the church isn’t empty, it’s been deployed.
Erwin McManus, his preaching and his books, and the community of faith he leads at Mosaic L.A., have continued to influence my journey of faith. So often, as I listen to Erwin over podcast (or more recently, during the pandemic, as I watch him preach on youtube on my tv), I find myself gasping out loud as he says something so profound and beautiful that my reaction isn’t something I can contain.
This past Sunday, I tuned in to hear him about 5pm, and there was a song played before the livestream began, and as some of the worship:
Once Erwin began to preach, he spoke at length (the sermon begins at minute 34 of this video) about this song, and he pointed out how easy it is for us to claim the goodness of others, and how hard it is to claim our own goodness. And I felt that in my gut.
I can speak about my congregants, friends, colleagues and family in glowing terms. I can tell you how amazing they are – you’ll probably have to tell me to shut up, once I get going. But oh-my-goodness-sakes-alive do I ever find it hard to say anything about my own goodness.
And yet the song’s claim – I am good, YOU say I am good – is indeed scriptural. God says that we are made in His image (how could that be anything but good?!), that we are worth loving (how could that be anything but good?!), that he has crowned us with glory and honour.
The pushback that Mosaic L.A. has received, of course, is that we are flawed and imperfect and sinful – how can we sing about our own goodness. But I wonder if in singing that refrain: I am good, You say I’m good, what we are really claiming is the beauty of how God loves us, how God values us, how God sees us.
So dear friends, until tomorrow – hold on to the fact that God says you are good (and so do I!).