Dec 18, 2007

Spiritual Discipline of the Mundane

"Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house."

--Proverbs 24:27

We loathe the mundane. We'd much rather be off doing something more exciting, something more meaningful. Doing laundry, homework, dishes, yardwork, cooking and cleaning seems so underwhelming. What would happen if we let all the monotonous tasks go, if we didn't fulfill our daily responsibilities? Chaos.

We see it all around us, people addicted to adrenalin, neglecting the tasks and people at their fingertips. I'm talking to myself here. If I neglect the laundry or dishes or daily task of picking up the apartment because I'd rather read or spend time in other places with other people, I suffocate from clutter. Stress invades. Conflict arises.

  • If we daily neglect acts of love and service to our loved ones, death invades our relationships.
  • If we daily neglect our work it catches up to us. We get a bad grade, bad review or get fired.

  • If we daily neglect caring for our bodies, we lose teeth, gain weight and contribute to the onset of disease.

  • If we daily neglect to intentionally remember the poor, oppressed, orphans, and widows, we develop a lifetime habit of ignoring them. We live for ourselves. And Jesus says we'll go to hell (Matthew 25).
  • If we daily neglect caring for creation, we'll make it uninhabitable.

I wonder how often governments that ignore fingertip tasks have stirred up conflict?

There is a spiritual discipline involved in fulfilling the mundane tasks set before us. When we fulfill our daily assignments we do our part to hold the world together. When we fail to, we add to its dissolution.

Dec 17, 2007

Jaded by Christians

"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." Isaiah 42:3a

You’re in a swirl of darkness. You experience soul-searing pain. Open wounds. Not only from your own pain, but from the countless injustices and atrocities around you. Numb. Your soul is numb. Your faith fragile. One wrong move and you’ll fall to pieces. You can’t see God through the fog of his people. Jesus said that people would spot Christians by their love, if that’s the case, then you couldn’t be surrounded by Christians because these people are selfish, stubborn, mean and angry. Grinding all sorts of axes. Tunnel-visioned.

You’re disillusioned, don’t know what to believe or if you believe. “Is God who he says he is? Is what I’ve been taught about him true?” you wonder. Moreover if God is good and loving why so much evil, pain, and suffering? Why so many professing Christians who are nothing like Jesus? What can be done for you? Is this all there is? You fear falling into the bottomless abyss of unbelief. What you don’t want, what you don’t need is someone to quote Bible verses to you. Giving you pat answers. You bristle at the thought.

You know what? Jesus isn’t that way. He doesn't kick you when you're down. But he asks, “What can I do for you?” Jesus came to reconcile you and all of creation to God. He wants to show you how to live, to make you whole--fully human. And he will walk with you as you heal. He knows the pace you can manage.

He will sharpen your perceptions of reality through his word, through Christians who behave(d) like him, and through creation's graces. He'll answer many questions, and make you okay with not knowing the answers to others. He'll pour his life into you as you follow him. In turn you'll live your life to serve God and others. It's not the end for you. Right now, the best thing you can do is trust him and relax in his arms even if you can't pray or go to church or serve (he knows all this). He'll bring you around to truth and life and comfort.