Drop Your Nets

Disciples of Jesus are followers of Jesus. They walk not only where He walks, but in the manner in which He walks. It means that we acknowledge the lordship of Jesus and seek to see that lordship actualized in every area of our lives. That’s what disciples do. Jesus’ first call to discipleship in Scripture gives us a good picture of how a disciple responds to Him:

As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Mark 1:16–18)

Notice particularly what happened in that passage. The call of Jesus went out, and the men dropped their nets. Now I’m sure there’s a practical component to this—they dropped their nets because that’s what they were holding at the time. You can’t really walk off following some random rabbi with a bunch of fishing nets in your hands. Still, it does seem like a strange detail to include in the account. Mark didn’t say, “They shielded their eyes from the sun” or “They took a step out of the boat.”

They dropped their nets. They symbolically left their old way of life. They broke with the past—their past vocation, their sense of self, and their identity— and fully embraced the future. Those nets were the symbols of their livelihood—the very tools they would use to make their way in the world. And they dropped them and instead followed Jesus. That’s what a disciple does.

Disciples recognize the worth and value of the One who calls and see the “nets” in their hands in comparison to Him. They suddenly realize that they have a greater purpose than merely fishing; so they leave and follow Jesus instead. For disciples, following Jesus is both an exit and an entrance; an ending as well as a beginning. They charge off, not knowing exactly what the future entails, but knowing that whatever it is they’ll follow Jesus into it.

That’s how all of us started our life with Christ. And it’s a commitment that we renew day after day, moment by moment. Following Jesus is something that doesn’t only require a piece of a person; it requires the whole of who we are and what we have. It’s an all-the-time thing…

Excerpt taken from my book Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.

Bookmark and Share

Fish and Snakes and Fathers and Sons

Money is important.

It’s important not only from a pragmatic perspective; it’s more important from a spiritual perspective. Trying to emphasize the discipline and faith aspect of money, we have tried for several years to instill some habits into our children regarding the money they earn and receive for birthdays and Christmas. They know when they get money, it needs to be divided into four major categories: give, save, need, and spend. But they also know that while we as parents get to dictate much of what happens in the first three categories, they have a lot of freedom with their “spend” money.

That freedom is sometimes frustrating as a parent, especially one who has wasted as much money on stupid things as I have over the course of my life. Periodically throughout the year, one of the kids will see something they absolutely have to have. So begins the conversation about value in which I try (unsuccessfully most of the time) to convince them that what they have their heart set on isn’t actually worth it. It’s not as good as they think it’s going to be, and in the end, they’ll wind up not just frustrated, but frustrated and broke.

In other words, what they think is a fish is really a snake. It’s the opposite perspective that Jesus taught in Matthew 7:

“What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Jesus’ point is that God knows what He’s doing. And He is generous. But by implication, He’s also saying that our good Father knows, better than we do, the difference between a fish and a snake. That’s important because often times we do not. And in my more reflective moments, I wonder if at a different level the same conversation happens between me and God that happens between me and my own children. If it does (and I’m pretty sure it does), then it might go something like this:

“Father, I’ve thought a lot about it, and I was wondering if you would give me this thing I see in front of me. I know I’ve asked for a bunch of stuff in the past, but I know this time it’s the right thing. Please… can I have this fish?”

“Son, this is not the best thing for you. I know you think it is, but it’s not. If you could see this from my vantage point you would see that it’s not really a fish at all. It’s a snake.”

“No, it’s not! I know what a snake looks like, and this is not a snake. It’s a fish. And it’s a beautiful and tasty fish. Give it to me! Please!”

“I know, son, that you think it’s a fish. But if you would pause and remember for a moment, you would realize that you’ve made this mistake before. You would have to admit that you tend to mistake snakes for fish from time to time. Trust me – I love you – this is indeed a snake.”

“You say you love me, but you won’t give me something that is clearly the best thing for me. You withhold fish – you don’t give them.”

“It may look like a fish to you. It may smell like a fish to you. It may feel like a fish to you. But I’m the One who made both fish and snakes. And I’m the One who knows the difference between them. And in time, you will see that this is indeed a snake.”

Maybe it sounds a little familiar to you? If it does, then you know how this story ends most of the time. You go and pout and mourn the loss of the thing you were convinced was the absolutely perfect for you. But perhaps today you and I both might be encouraged by the fact that there is one Son of God who didn’t pout. Who didn’t rebel. Instead, He accepted from His Father’s hand that which looked like a snake because He believed His Father when He told Him that it was a fish. Jesus, in the garden, bowed to His Father’s wisdom and said quietly but not easily, “You will be done.”

May it be also so with us, for we have a Father who knows the difference between snakes and fish.

Bookmark and Share

Two Active Ways to Grow in Our Desire for the Kingdom

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

I resonate with that request the early disciples made of Jesus. There is implicit in the request a certain amount of humility that it takes any time you ask someone to teach you something. The acknowledgment behind the request is one of inadequacy; I don’t know how to do this, and I need you to teach me how. Like the early disciples, I often find myself floundering and blundering through the practice of prayer, ending up with the same request again and again: “Teach me how to do this, Lord.”

In response to their request, Jesus did indeed teach them how to pray, giving them what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Model Prayer” today:

“Father, Your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us. And do not bring us into temptation” (Luke 11:2-4).

As others throughout history have pointed out, this prayer is a teaching tool; it’s not meant to be a recited over and over again as it it’s some kind of magic incantation. Rather, Jesus demonstrated the themes and requests that should dominate the prayers of one whose heart is aligned with the heart of God. It’s focused on the glory and honor of God, first and foremost, praying that the kingdom of God could come.

Here’s the thing, though – if this is not meant to be merely recited but expanded on in a million different ways, all stemming from a heart that reflects these kind of themes, then I’ve got a problem. The problem is that when I look to my own heart, I find that the dominant desires I bring to God don’t start with His glory and kingdom, but instead my own. My comfort. My good. My needs. I find myself over and over again in the situation of “wanting to want” – I wish that I longed for the kingdom of God to come so much that its coming is a heartfelt and genuine request from the deepest recesses of my soul.

But I don’t.

Is there, then, something I might do in order to grow my desire for the kingdom of God? Perhaps there is, and perhaps it’s not as complicated as I tend to make it. Here are two such active ways we might grow in our desire for God’s kingdom:

1. Say it. 

With any of the spiritual disciplines, including prayer, we must make a fundamental decision regarding our feelings. Of course, it would be perfect if everyday we woke up and felt like reading the Bible. It would be great if we felt like fasting. And it would be incredible if we always felt like praying, and praying for God’s kingdom to come. We are on a journey with Christ to the time when our feelings, too, are redeemed, and we want exactly what God wants. Until then, though, we battle with those same feelings, warring between what we know and what we feel.

So the decision is this: do we begin to pray, and pray in this fashion, even though we might not feel it, or do we wait until we do, bemoaning the fact that we don’t? The answer is the former. One of the practical ways we can grow in our desire is to actually start doing the thing we want to desire. Simple as it sounds, we grow in our longing for God’s kingdom to come by simply praying that His kingdom would come. And as we do, we follow it up with an honest plea for our hearts to long for it more and more.

2. Look around.

At the risk of being too simple again, the next action we can take to grow in our desire for the kingdom is to look around us. When we do, we will be confronted with a thousand examples of the fact that things on earth are not as they are in heaven. The world is broken, and we can see the visible evidence of that brokenness all around us: Poverty, homelessness, divorce, misshapen sexual values, war, drought, floods, tornadoes and a host of other things will meet our gaze as we look around. All of them and more are tangible evidence of a creation groaning for its redemption, of the world longing for its redemption when the kingdom if fully consummated.

When we see all those things, we can complain about the state of society; we can get angry at economics or the government or whatever; or we can recognize the brokenness of the world that can only truly be fixed by the rightful reign of King Jesus. What we see can be a conduit to move us into prayer for the day when all will be well once again. We look around, and we pray for the kingdom of God to come.

Say it with me today, Christian. Look around and say it again. Say it even if you don’t feel it. And say it in faith as a response to the brokenness we see.

Bookmark and Share

What is Supernatural is Not Necessarily Mystical

Supernatural.

Defined like this: of, relating to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.

What we mean, then, by supernatural, is that there is a default way of everything. The law of gravity, for example, means that things are pulled downward, or toward the center of the earth. If one day things started “falling” upward, or if things began to float on their own without some outside force acting on them, we would say it was a supernatural occurrence because the observed happenings were not in line with what they’re supposed to be.

Christians deal in the realm of the supernatural all the time, even if we don’t recognize it. We believe the natural, the default, posture of the human heart is sinful. When we commit acts of sin, it’s a very natural thing for us to do because that’s our bent. It’s an expression of who we are. But when we believe the gospel, something supernatural happens. Our default changes. We begin to act in accordance with our new nature. We do things and think things and believe things and say things that are out of place in the natural order of the world:

We love our enemies.

We rejoice when persecuted.

We are grateful in all circumstances.

We give instead of take.

All these things are against the way of the world. But just because something is supernatural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s mystical. When we think of something being mystical, it’s a bit more hazy than something being supernatural. When we say something is mystical, we mean it’s obscure. It’s mysterious. And while the two words might share some characteristics, I’m thinking more and more that it’s important for us to recognize the difference because doing so impacts the way we live out our faith.

Take, for example, Paul’s words in Galatians 5:16:

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

“Walk by the Spirit,” says Paul. This sounds like a pretty mystical thing when you first read it. We might have a picture in our minds of someone starting out from their house to walk with no aim in mind, just waiting for the Spirit to show them where to go. They go through their lives this way, waiting for that voice or feeling or vision so they will know the next step to take.

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen that way; you, like me, have probably had times when you felt like the Holy Spirit was leading you in a certain way or to say a certain thing or to contact a certain person though you don’t know why in the moment. But walking by the Spirit, though supernatural, is not that mystical, or at least not that mystical all the time. Take a look at the rest of the text from Galatians:

For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other so that you don’t do what you want. Bit if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law… (Gal. 5:17-18).

If you continue to read, you’ll find Paul describing the works of the flesh – things like sexual immorality, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, and others. Then he describes the fruit of the Spirit – love, you, peace, patience, and so on. These don’t seem like mystical kinds of things.

Supernatural? Absolutely. Mystical? Not so much.

Instead, what they seem like are practical, moment-by-moment choices in every day ordinary moments of life. It’s in these small choices that we make the choice to walk with the Spirit instead of walking by the flesh. And when you add all those choices up, you find a moment-by-moment, occasion-by-occasion turning from our self-lordship to an acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all things. That only happens through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, but it’s lived out in the very non-mystical ordinariness of real life.

Bookmark and Share

How Did Christ Love the Church?

Paul handed out a mighty command to husbands in Ephesians 5:25:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.”

Love your wives, husbands, as Christ loved the church. And how did Christ love the church? He died for her.

What, then, does it mean to be a husband in the Christian sense? It means you die for your wife. But I doubt Paul had in mind the “Bryan Adams, theme-song-of-robin-hood kind of “I’d die for yoooouuuu!!!” kind of death. It’s nothing that pretty. But in some ways, we want it to be.

Husbands, we look for the grand romantic gesture, the rescue of the damsel in distress, the heroic save-the-day kind of moment, and that’s fine so far as it goes. The problem is those opportunities don’t come along every day. In a real marriage, with real people, there might someday be a moment of huge sacrifice on behalf of your family, but maybe not. There will, however, be tons of smaller, more seemingly insignificant moments day in and day out when the “death” is worked out.

There are moments when you take the dish duty. When you sacrifice a few extra minutes of sleep. When you sleep in the tent even though your back is going to hurt. When you play a meticulously planned game of tea party. When you get up and go to work again and again, and then you put the phone down again and again when you get home. When you watch that episode of “Sophia the First” one more time. These are the moments of death – joyous, thankful, sacrificial death. These are the moments when you choose to die, and in so doing, you choose to truly live.

Husbands, don’t wait for the grand gesture; don’t postpone the small sacrifices at your door in favor of later. Embrace the small moments, and find the joy on the other side.

Bookmark and Share

The Spiritual Importance of Scheduling

I have grown to love my personal calendar.

I know different people treat their time in different ways; I’ve found that I thrive most in a structured environment. So I’ve tried in the last few months to take a more proactive role in structuring my time, particularly at work. Rather than simply having a “to do” list of tasks, I have begun to transfer those tasks to blocks of time on my schedule. So I break the day into segments, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes an hour, and assign particular tasks for that given period of time.

For some tasks, it means multiple blocks of that time during the week. I might devote an hour on Monday, then another on Tuesday, then 30 more minutes on Friday. And at the end of each day, I evaluate the remaining days in the week and adjust the blocks of time according to what I was able to accomplish during that day… and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that it sounds pretty obsessive. Maybe even a little compulsive to go along with it.

For me, though, this is more than a helpful time management practice; it actually has a spiritual component to it.

From time to time, I feel overwhelmed when faced with a laundry list of things that have to be done. I start to worry about the time it will take to get it all done; I begin to feel anxiety about what’s before me. And when I do that, I have to realize that my worry and anxiety is not only unhealthy; it’s actually disobedient:

“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25).

So said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He continued to hold up birds and wildflowers as those God provides for, making the point that we, as His children are much more valuable then these things. Then Jesus reminds us that worry and anxiety over the stuff of life is the characteristic of idolaters:

“…the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:32-34).

It’s that last statement that gets me – tomorrow has enough troubles of its own. My problem is that I tend to bring the worries of tomorrow into today. But this is also the point where keeping a schedule can actually be of great aid in our obedience to the command of Jesus to be free of worry.

If we are proactive in time management, scheduling out time can help us leave the worries of tomorrow until tomorrow. So, for example, let’s say you have a massive project you have to get done at work, and you find yourself disobediently worrying about getting it all done. But you very much want to obey what Jesus said. Perhaps a practical step in the right direction would be to break up that project into smaller chunks and then schedule time into the next several weeks to accomplish each one.

You have task 1 to do on Monday. You don’t have to worry about task 2 because you know you’ve already allocated time to get that done on Tuesday. So you move forward, one step at a time, treating the day you have before you as a single day, and you’re able to put down the phone and lay your head on the pillow knowing that tomorrow you can do the exact same thing. The point of the exercise, though, is more than finding a way to get things done; it’s an active way to pursue obedience to Jesus.

And I’m finding more and more that these small, seemingly insignificant choices are the nuts and bolts of what it means to truly follow Him.

Bookmark and Share

Who is the Most Influential Person in Your Life?

Who is the most influential person in your life?

You are.

As Paul Tripp has said, “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, though we wield this influence over ourselves, we also ironically fail to realize just how dramatically we do. When we fail to take a proactive stance in our own lives, we assume by default an attitude of victimization. Things are constantly happening to us, and we give in the fight to feel whatever we feel, believe whatever we believe, love whoever we love. We by our inattentiveness hand over this influence to anyone and everyone else.

This is also where we might also begin to drift into some kind of self-help, self-empowering mumbo jumbo. The question that keeps us out of that territory is exactly what you are going to say to yourself.

Is our message going to be based on ourselves? Our own abilities? Our own goodness? Our own positive thinking?

Or is our message going to be one of joy in our weakness and Christ’s strength? Our own sinfulness but Christ’s righteousness? Our own need and God’s provision?

You have the primary voice inside your head. Make sure you are speaking the truth to you today.

Bookmark and Share

The Thin Line Between Faith and Foolishness

Someone, somewhere once defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results.

True enough.

At some point, when you are in a rhythm and cycle and you’re not satisfied with the results, you have to go back and look at the way you are doing something, or the assumptions you had in doing that thing to see what needs to be corrected:

  • If you’re launching a business or a product and people aren’t buying in, then you need to examine your messaging, pricing, or the perceived need for your thing.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight but can’t, you need to examine your diet, your exercise level, or both.
  • If you find yourself spending more money than you’re making every month, you need to examine your expenditures one at a time to see what’s not lining up.

In all these cases, the unsatisfactory results demand a second look at what you’re doing to try and achieve those results. Only a fool would continue on the same path, doing the same things, with the same assumptions behind those things, and expect that someday, like magic, the results will be different. Something has to change. And while that philosophy works great in many areas of life, it runs contrary to the Christian faith. In the Christian faith, we are called to keep doing the same things over and over again in spite of  the apparent results. Here’s a few examples from the Book of Hebrews, a book that constantly drives home the point of perseverance:

  • For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start (Hebrews 3:14).
  • Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
  • For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised (Hebrews 10:36).
  • Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Keep running. Keep enduring. Keep holding. Keep doing the same thing, over and over again. But here, in this aspect of life, we must keep doing the same thing over and over again despite the results before us. In faith, there is a higher value than pragmatism, and the higher value is Jesus.

See, in the earlier examples, it’s foolishness to continue on the same path. But here, the focus is not on the seen, but the unseen; it’s not on the results, but on the One behind the results. The temptation, though, is to take the same pragmatic attitude we have with other areas of life and apply it to our faith. Our beliefs must evolve. Our understanding of truth must change. Our deep held convictions must be softened. And why?

Because they’re not working any more.

To this, the Bible would say, I think, something like, “So what?”

Walk the line, then, between faith and foolishness, but walk it with your eyes not on the results but the One who makes the fool to be wise and wise to be the fool:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.”

Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was please to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).

Bookmark and Share

The Limited Power of Observation

It’s been hot in Nashville. Hot and humid. Like the kind of hot and humid when you walk outside and it feels like someone threw a bucket of chili in your face. So I was none too pleased a few days ago when I went upstairs to our kids’ bedrooms and found that our air conditioning unit had stopped working.

My limitations in home improvement have been well documented, but nonetheless, I told my wife and kids that I would “take a look”, and so take a look I did. Armed with my trusty head lamp I went outside in the backyard to take a look at the air conditioning unit.

Yep, it was there. So far so good. I bent down and looked behind the unit and I found a 3 inch encasing of ice around the area of the back where some pipes came into the unit. When I saw the snowball at the base in the midst of the chili-like atmosphere, I had the profound thought: That doesn’t look right.

Now there were two options for me at this point, having discovered something that was clearly wrong. Option 1 involved me going to the garage, getting a bunch of tools, and starting to mess with things armed with a screwdriver, my head lamp, and my phone with which I could call up a few youtube videos to see if anyone else had diagnosed and dealt with the same issue.

Option 2 involved me calling for someone to help me.

With my own powers of observation, I was able to tell there was something wrong, but I wasn’t able to fully diagnose the issue. Further, even if I could fully describe and identify the problem, I don’t have the expertise and knowledge to know how to make what was wrong start to be right again. That’s the limitation of observation. We might be able to see something that’s not how it should be, but we need an outside source of truth and knowledge to help us not only know just how wrong something is, but then to correct it.

It’s not unlike the pattern we see in Romans 1:18:

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made…

This is the power of observation. We can walk outside and observe some thing about God. We can see His creativity, His power, and His expansive greatness. But we can also see from observation that something is not as it should be. There is a certain “wrongness” we can observe by looking not only at a world of chaos, but also the chaotic longings of our own heart. It is wrong. We are wrong. But that’s where our powers of observation end, and we have one of two choices.

We can continue onward with the tools we have at our disposal. We can tinker with our environment, with our hearts, with our lives, and in so doing assume that we are fully capable of “figuring it out” on our own. That we have the power and the intellect and the moral capacity to create an environment that is right. This, however, is the path of supreme arrogance; it’s the path of assuming that all the answers for what’s wrong can be found inside ourselves; it’s the path of assuming that we are god, and our potential must only be unlocked.

Or there is option 2. We can recognize the limitations of our own observation and look outside ourselves for truth. We can refer ourselves to greater things, greater people, who can not only fully diagnose our issues but also provide the true pathway to wholeness and restoration.

The end of the story is that my air conditioner is now working. But it’s not working because I “observed” my way into a solution. It’s working because we called in an outside source. In the case of the air conditioning unit, we had to look outside ourselves for truth and answers, because observation can lead you to the problem but not fully to the answer. and in the case of the air conditioner, and perhaps with all of life, the core question late that night when I found the snowball was this:

How much am I willing to stake on my own abilities? Not much when it comes to my air conditioner. Even less when it comes to my soul.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:16-17).

Bookmark and Share

Work and Worship

Work is not a bad thing. I know, we typically think of work as a means to an end – we work for the weekend, we work for retirement, we work to go on vacation – but work is threaded into what it means to bear the image of God.

Two terms are used in Genesis 2:15 to describe the job God gave to Adam: “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.” In the Old Testament, the words “work” and “watch over” are most frequently used in discussions of human service to God, rather than describing a farmer’s job. Surprisingly, these words are often connected to worship, or even the actions of priests serving in the tabernacle of God.

If Adam had a business card, it would have read “Gardener.” Nothing exciting there. And yet the words God used to describe his job are anything but ordinary. Perhaps, at least in God’s mind, there isn’t such a wide divide between those things as there is to us.

Think of it like this: God could have, if He wanted, filled the whole earth with human beings in the same way He fashioned Adam—from the dust of the ground. But rather than taking that approach, He looked on Adam and gave him and his wife the responsibility and privilege of populating the earth. It’s still controlled, upheld, and blessed by God, but He chose in His sovereignty to use regular people as the means of establishing His intent on earth. Work can be seen much in the same way. Through work, God is using regular, ordinary people as His means of providing for His creation.

As our perspective on work changes through the gospel, we begin to see that the menial tasks we find ourselves involved in day in and day out are actually—and amazingly—infused with incredible meaning. They are the sovereignly designed means by which God is caring for the people of the earth. He has ordained that we, as human beings, exist in a state of interdependence on each other. That doesn’t mean God has isolated Himself from the world; it simply means that God is providentially using the talents, opportunities, and regular old jobs of regular old people to provide and care for humanity.

Think of that. As we work, we are the means of God. We become like the rain that falls on the just and unjust alike—the means of common grace through which human life and well-being is sustained and provided for. When we see it like that, a sense of great wonder and awe returns to our everyday working life, for we come to see that God is channeling His love through us as we work. He doesn’t just work through people involved in service industries, whose mission statements are written to benefit mankind. He channels His love through the man who collects the garbage on the streets early in the morning so that a community can be clean and free of disease. It happens through the farmer who raises crops that can be turned into clothes to keep children warm. It happens, as Martin Luther said during his time, even through the most humble functions and stations of life: God Himself is milking the cows through the vocation of the milkmaid.

Centuries later, Luther’s namesake Martin Luther King Jr. would say something similar: “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

Not only should we look at our own jobs with a renewed sense of awe as we are being used by God for the ultimate good of others; but every single job deserves our respect and gratitude. It’s these common, everyday, run-of-the-mill jobs that channel the love of God and therefore are a sacred means of bringing great honor to Him. When you stop seeing your job as the means to a paycheck and start seeing it as a means of glorifying the providing God, it changes the way you flip burgers, change diapers, or put together a report…

Taken from my book Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in and Ordinary Life.

Bookmark and Share

Switch to our mobile site