Living the Yes

Several years ago, I led a retreat in Atlanta for a group of 20 people. We gathered for a weekend to consider a topic inspired by 2 Corinthians 2:18-20.

St. Paul wrote: “As surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us - by me and Silas and Timothy – was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

I called the retreat LIVING THE YES! and I talked it up as a retreat for people who were interested in learning how to turn around negative thinking through the power of the Word. Surprisingly, the limited 20-person registration was filled almost immediately.

On the first night, after everyone was settled, and we had some time for fellowship and celebrated Holy Communion, I showed the group the Jim Carey movie “Yes Men.” In case you missed this one, it’s a gem for a retreat, especially one focusing on “Yes” as a word of faith.

In the movie, Carey plays an everyman character for whom life is simply bad. Everything is bad. Everything! Until, he is coerced into attending a motivational seminar with one of his buddies. At the seminar, Carey is influenced by the speaker to make a commitment to say “Yes” to everything. To simply stop saying “No.” Period. In pure Jim Carey fashion, mayhem ensues. By the end of the first night, Carey has given his car away to a homeless man who simply asked for the keys!

The movie laid the foundation for the weekend where we soon realized how unrealistic it is for us to say “Yes” to everything in life. But it also woke us up to how often we limit ourselves by negativity and our self-imposed lives driven by “No.” We learned that even though we can’t say “Yes” to everything, there are some essential yeses that precede living to our fullest potential. The most essential “Yes” for a well-lived life is the one we receive and respond to in Christ Jesus our Lord. Without that “Yes” all other “Yeses” eventually lead to “No.”

The good news of the gospel is that the promises of Christ are not put before us in multiple choice format. They are put forth as God’s eternal “Yes” made evident in the promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So, we can “Live the Yes” and overcome negativity even when everything is bad. How? Through the power of God’s affirmation, Christ’s “Yes!” shouted from the cross.

As a child growing up in Appalachia, I was taught if a bully ever called me a weakling or, worse yet a “Yes Man,” it was time to throw off my hat and take the kid to the dirt.

But, in Christ Jesus, I’ve come to see things another way. There’s strength in being God’s “Yes Man or Woman.” It’s a strength more powerful than human grit. It’s a strength that can make an awful day ripe for grace.

Today, I wish you a glimpse of God’s “Yes.”

Pastor Frank