One thing I’m most looking forward to in this next season of the Brilliant Community is inviting friends to share with us. Today, I’ve asked a special brother to share a brilliant perspective.
A few years ago, William Paul Young wrote a little book called The Shack that turned the whole world upside down. Just recently, he wrote a book called Eve that is quickly doing the same thing.
In addition to being a fantastic storyteller and a New York Times bestselling author, William Paul Young is a friend who fully lives out of the brilliant perspective God offers him.
Take it away, Paul!
If you know me at all, you know that I love words. I figure if a Word can create the universe, perhaps our hearts and minds can be greatly impacted (if not transformed!) by words as well. I am intrigued by words, some of which are considered to be omnipresent and “holy” and very “Christian” …even if they aren’t even in the Bible. At all.
I am thinking of one word in particular at this moment that dominates the religious landscape and has a solid foothold in the rest of the western culture as well. This word is so powerful we assume it was one of those words that’s inherently tied to the character of God.
Sitting on my desk, right now are the following: Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Tyndale Publisher’s The Word Study Concordance (based on Strong’s Concordance) and Geoffrey Bromley’s 1,356 page Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. On my shelf is the massive, ten volume set of Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.
The word I’m thinking of is not in any of these. No derivation of the word is in any of these. This word is simply not in the Bible, although it has slipped into a few English translations.
What is the word? Responsibility.
Neither “responsibility” or any of its derivations, including “responsible,” make a single appearance.
The etymology of “responsibility” is French, probably a Latin derived 13th Century participle. It didn’t gain common traction until the time of the industrial revolution, when work and progress became paramount. From there it morphed into a performance production word.
Are we surprised that religion grabbed a hold of it as a very useful motivator? Even using it so proficiently that it is now assumed to be one of those holy words? I’m not.
Instead of responsibility, the Bible chooses to focus on a another action: the ability to respond.
This is entirely different.
Responsibility is a set of expectations enforced from the outside. It’s a law or code of behavior and often used to define a good person and communicate shame for poor performance.
But a response arises from within. It is dynamic and relational. A responsive person may or may not give, but a responsible person is supposed to give. Because of who we are as human beings in dwelt by Jesus (John 14:20), we have an ability to respond, not a responsibility. This has massive implications and is implicitly an invitation to adventures in living.
Remember that today. Your calling is not a responsibility. It is your willing and joyful response.
Author of The Shack, Cross Roads & Eve. Learn more @ WmPaulYoung.com