“But 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.”2 Corinthians 1:18-20 NIV
There’s a growing list of things in my house to which I will always say “yes”: coffee, tea, taking a walk, sitting on the deck, playing a board game, working on a puzzle, and watching reruns of The Office, for starters.
“Yes” is an answer I’ve had to practice giving.
When my kids first entered the age of asking permission, it didn’t matter what they wanted, my first answer was always “no.” I defaulted to “no.”
No, that’s too inconvenient. No, that will take too much time. No, I just don’t want to. No. No. No.
There’s a children’s song by They Might Be Giants that captures the spirit of that time for me:
Pardon me — No!
Excuse me — No!
May I stay?
Can I go?
No, no, no
Do this — No!
Don’t do that — No!
Sit, stay, roll over
No, no, no
Why “no”? Because of fear. Because of laziness. Because of fear. Because of selfishness. Because of fear.
Did I mention because of fear?
Of course there are times when “no” is the appropriate response, when someone’s actions or behaviors could be dangerous or wrong or harmful, but what would happen if in place of the reactionary “No!” I defaulted to “Yes”?
In the 2008 film, “Yes Man,” Jim Carrey plays a character who discovers the magical power of saying “yes.” All of the choices he used to be unwilling to risk, all of the adventures he hesitated to do, all of the new hobbies and experiences he once missed out on, now he says yes, yes, and yes.
Paul told the Corinthian church that in Jesus, God’s promises are Yes. Yes, I am with you. Yes, I want you to go and make disciples. Yes, I will protect you from the evil one. Yes, I love you. Yes, I will rescue you. Yes, I have already done these things, and I will do these things, over and over and over, until the end of the age.
The word, “Amen” means “So be it,” or “hear hear!” or “certainly!” or “may it be so.” Jesus is God’s “Yes, may it be so.” That is the epitome of hope, the climax of love, the fullness of mercy and grace. Jesus is the completion of possibility. When someone asks me for permission, in Christ, the possibility is YES. The fullness of life is in community, in relationship, in engaging in active love and relationship.
Jesus’ YES crossed ethnic and religious and socio-economic boundaries. Jesus’ YES brought healing and hope to the diseased and despairing. Jesus’ YES closed the gap and changed the narrative to universal love and acceptance.
God’s hopes for you are wrapped up in love, tied with the bow of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness, and tagged with the promise of eternal presence by the Holy Spirit. They are yes and amen.
May we be people of Yes and Amen.
Points of Reflection
- Do you default to “no” or do you default to “yes”? How has that shaped your experiences and your relationships?
- What does it mean to you for God’s promises to be “Yes” in Christ?
For the Kids
- What are your hopes for the future?
- Do you believe that God’s love for you is all-encompassing?
In the film, “Yes Man,” Jim Carrey takes saying “yes” to the extreme, and even though it started out as a great challenge to break him out of a rut of monotony and boredom, his new girlfriend questions the sincerity of his “yes.” Obviously, there are times when “no” is the appropriate response, but for this week, what might happen if you pause before you default to “no” and consider the benefits and possibilities of “yes”? How might your life be enriched with joy, delight, goodness, and peace if you step into this request with “yes” instead of “no”? How might your relationship with the asker be deepened and strengthened? What “yes” and “amen” is God waiting to fulfill for you this week?
I went on a Taylor Jenkins Reid binge this summer, disappearing into many of her delicious novels. Her book, Maybe in Another Life asks the question, what would happen if you said “yes” instead of “no”? How would life play out? What would happen if? Taylor Jenkins Reid’s character engages with both the question of free will as well as whether God is really working all things for good. The novel is not a “Christian” novel, but Maybe in Another Life is a compelling and heartwarming story that wrestles with these universal questions. Enjoy!