3.10.2009

changing diapers for Jesus


Last week - Lord willing - I changed my last diaper—at least until the day I will have to change my own. Of course that only means that I began wiping it up off the floor. And in those moments, when I am wiping up "poopies" and "peepees", I am more often than I would like to admit in a state of discontentment and frustration. Let us just say "Praise the Lord!" is not what is being muttered underneath my breath.

There is the temptation within me to look to bigger, better, and more significant work as the stuff of real significance. "Lord, there has got to be something more significant for me to do for you than this?" There is always something and someone to covet. Whether it is the friend doing his PhD while my "I regret to inform you" envelop fattens, or the successful pastor experiencing a numerical explosion, or the author of the book I am reading, or the peers experiencing success in a new business venture; I am often overcome by a sense of disappointment.

I talk to people all the time discontent with the present. Honest and earnest people, who at least say they want to do something in service of God, but do not because the conditions are not yet right: work is not right, money is not right, relationships are not right, and so on. On top of this there is the unspoken belief—sometimes propagated by clergy—that the only real service to God is that done in the church. There was a time when I came face-to-face with this belief in my own life. It was a time when I had to learn how to be a Christian when I was not a professional one.

Reading the Bible has not always helped me because I read a highlight reel of big things being done for God, but for every superstar in the Bible "doing big things for God" there are thousands of nameless disciples anonymously and without fan fare honoring God with their simple lives. Think of this, the apostle Paul writes to Colossian slaves and gives them the simple command: "Do you work with soul as for the Lord and not for men. Know that you will receive from the Lord the reward of the inheritance. You serve the Lord Christ.” Setting aside the questions surrounding Paul’s attitudes toward slavery, consider some of the significance of what Paul is saying. One, Paul is telling these slaves that they stand to receive an inheritance. Inheritance is only for sons and daughters—not slaves. Two, doing your seemingly mundane and unspiritual work spiritually is an honorable and significant service to God. Jesus did a similar thing when he praised the poor widow who gave her last pennies, saying her act of faith was greater than all the large and conspicuous gifts given by the rich.

Everyone has inherited the call to follow Jesus and make-disciples. For some that will take them into adventures in foreign lands. Others will speak to thousands and make a great name. But this is no more—and is sometimes far less—significant than the simple, mundane acts that we do in faith. So while, I am stewing in my discontentment, I am forgetting the opportunities that are placed in front of me right now. Disciples making is not necessarily out there. It is right here with these little Halflings, who keep leaving puddles on the floor.

We live between the times. We yearn for another life, but the challenge is to bring that life into the present and to see things as God does—upside down.

Painting is "Lost Between Lands" by JEM

2 comments:

Joey said...

Ha! I am the first comment. The more I live life, the more I start to lean toward this way of thinking. The truth is, I don't know where I stand in the scheme of things, at least past the part where Jesus died for my sins because I am completely selfish, depraved, and devoid of hope outside of His salvation. I am starting to understand more and more that there is something to a "normal" life than we give credit to.

If we as Christians are to believe that Jesus was God in flesh, then he could have lived any life he chose. Jesus could have been born into wealth and attended religious schools his entire life, done religious work, and then started his ministry. Instead, Jesus had little formal education (it doesn't seem to be mentioned at least) and worked a 9-5 until he was 30. There's a reason for that, and it got lost in the shuffle somewhere.

Jonathan Cottrell said...

I remember us talking often, Brett, about the delicate balance between contentment now and yet still striving for God's fullness. It is a delicate balance, indeed.