My family has been sick for nearly a month. The cycle began with a barfing four-year-old a few weeks ago (I’m convinced that God has designed kids to only throw up at two o’clock in the morning) and has morphed into a cornucopia of flu, chest infections, strep throat, and colds. Some members of my family (including my wife) are just now recovering from Round 2. Yet, I’ve managed (thanks to a steady diet of anointing oils and probiotics) to emerge unscathed.
As I fought that semi-nauseous, lack-of-sleep feeling and finished steam cleaning my daughter’s carpet after her sprinkler-system-like episode, I remember thinking, “So, this is the good life?” I’m a pastor, dangit! I am a leader of men! Motivator of the multitudes! I have been commissioned to disciple and train world-changers [decibles rising] to take this world captive to the Sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ, the God-Incarnate Savior of Mankind [veins bulging…head exploding]!
And here I am steaming up vomit stains at two o’clock in the morning.
LIVING IN AN ILLUSION
You and I have a problem. We live in a world that can often blur the line between reality and illusion. Our 3D, CGI, RPG culture has made illusions feel more real and powerful than ever. As a result, we find ourselves regularly escaping into illusions to make our personal realities more tolerable. Through movies, TV shows, sporting events, video-games and assorted other outlets, we are afforded stimulating escapes from the methodical mundaneness of our drab, repetitive, not-even-worthy-of-an-Oxygen-Channel-movie existence.
And so we find ourselves impatiently jumping from one magnificent mountain-top experience to another in order to find motivation and momentum to survive the deep, mundane valleys of everyday life.
Living in illusions can be as true in the Christian life as it is for everyone else. That’s why many of us are so deeply dependent on trying to re-live our “life-changing experience” at the Passion Conference . . . or that weekend retreat . . . or that short-term mission trip . . . or even that stirring, 15-minute worship set at our church gathering each Sunday – you know, the one that you and I “need in order to get through the week.”
“We find ourselves addicted to jumping from one magnificent mountain-top experience to another in order to find some sort of motivation to survive the deep, mundane valleys of everyday life.”
I am not saying that Passion Conferences, retreats, or well-done worship services are bad things. They are great things that God uses in unique ways for our good and His glory. But in many ways, they become illusions. Too often, we walk away believing that these mountain-top experiences are supposed to be normative for a sold-out follower of Jesus. That if every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of our life isn’t marked by radically throwing everything away to follow Jesus as He eradicates world-wide slavery, or some other transcendent cause, something must be wrong. We work tireless to recreate the experience to no avail. Why?
Because it was an illusion.
Like throwing a match on lighter fluid in a grill without wood, our passion and conviction dies down as quickly as it flamed up. We grow discontent and even discouraged when our 3D, CGI, RPG spirituality doesn’t make its way into the boring, mundane, repetitive, inglorious minutiae of our lives.
THE GOOD LIFE
The Bible teaches us that right in the middle of all this minutiae – all our late-night studying, 8-hour-a-day-working, laundry-folding, lawn-mowing, bill-paying, vomit-sanitizing-minutiae – is where disciples are made. The apostle Paul writes,
“But we urge you brothers, to [keep loving each other more and more – see vv. 9-10], and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you (1 Thessalonians 4:11).”
Devoted, gospel-centered, joy-filled disciples of Christ are not created in a thin string of magnificent moments but in the rhythmic thumping of the mundane! Paul continues in verse 12 by exposing the beautiful consequence of living such a life:
“…So that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent upon no one (1 Thessalonians 4:12).”
The grace of God toward us in Christ transforms the mundane into something magnificent! So magnificent, in fact, that our love, joy, contentment, and peace in the midst of the mundaneness becomes to a discontent, dissatisfied world a real-life advertisement for an infinitely satisfying Savior.
“The grace of God toward us in Christ transforms the mundane into something magnificent!”
You and I are sinners. The Bible says that the “wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23).” We are “by nature children [born into and destined for] wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Therefore, everything you and I have received apart from this rightfully earned wage is an unconditional, unmerited expression of grace and mercy from a God who loves us and wants us to know Him.
From our warm beds in our warm houses to our hot showers and steaming cups of coffee in the morning to the schools that we attend and the jobs at which we work in order to pay our bills and enjoy hot meals with sweet family and good friends at the end of long days . . . it’s all grace! All of the good things in our lives and all of the bad things that God intends to use for good…it’s all grace! We don’t deserve it. We’re not entitled to it. It’s a gift!
Every single bit of the mundane minutiae in our lives is an unmerited gift given to us by the Father (James 1) and bought by the blood of Jesus so that we might know Him, love Him and worship Him in order that other people might come to know Him, love Him and worship Him.
That is how the gospel turns the mundane into the magnificent.
It is here, in the ten thousand little mundane moments of every day, that disciples are made.
Agree? Disagree? Additional thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.
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