( BLOGGER’S NOTE: My current effort has me thinking about what it might be like if God were to actually speak to us. Not just in the way we’ve come to understand, i.e., through Nature, through the prophets, or through His written or Living Word, but out loud. Face to face. Just a sort of ‘casual conversation’ like Moses and Adam and others had. It’s a stretch, probably, but it has me thinking more carefully about some ideas than I’ve done in quite some time. Feeling that, if He were to engage us in such conversation, He might begin by asking a question just as He’s done with others in the past. Then waiting and giving us time to think it over and then reply. And perhaps not proceeding until we did answer. I also wondered ~if He knows everything~why He’d ever ask us for any information of any sort!
To be quite candid with you, this has made me think more carefully and at greater length than I’d imagined when I began. In pursuing this project, I got to the place in Scripture where God confronted Saul of Tarsus and interrupted his “Capture and Kill Christians Campaign,” and asked: “Why are you persecuting me?” That question has forced me to look carefully at it. I wondered, for example, what God’s definition of “persecution” might be. And is it possible for someone to be doing what he supposed was a legitimate duty and be utterly mistaken. Saul was, you remember, on an official mission under the authority of the best religious leadership available at the time. I ‘ve been wondering about the things I do routinely, almost on automatic pilot, religious things you know…Is it possible that my view of my activity may actually be hurting God! Persecuting Him! Wow! Try that thought on for size!!
Wanting to let you know I take this effort seriously as well as joyously, and wanting a bit more time to digest and phrase my own thoughts, I asked a bright young fellow blogger for permission to share some of his recent work. Pinch hit for me, please? Be my ‘back up’ while I sort out my answer to that penetrating question. The friend is a Christian businessman and executive who takes his faith right into the marketplace. He takes his commitment seriously. He thinks deeply and writes well. He isn’t prissy and pulls no punches. I hope you enjoy his thoughts and that you’ll visit his site. I’ve admired his writing on his blog which is entitled Shrinkingthecamel.wordpress.com ~you can figure that out, and it will be worth your effort.
Bradley Moore is my ‘pinch hitter! Batter up… ~donkimrey)
Do Not Worry (Oh, Really? That Might Be Easy for You to Say…
August 2, 2009 by shrinkingthecamel
These are worrisome times we are living in. There is an unprecedented global financial crisis, economic recession, threats of terrorism, more and more layoffs, and a growing government deficit. It’s just bad news all the way around. Add this pile of stink to the routine madness that you and I deal with daily, as a matter of course. Like trying to raise decent kids, and maintaining a good marriage, and paying all the bills, and the house is always a mess, the career pressures, friends dying of cancer, too many church committee obligations, every organization is asking you for money all the time, and what is that red spot on my shoulder? Was that there before?
It seems as if the sheer weight of responsibility that goes with being an adult in the modern 21st century can just about break us sometimes.
So, I’m in somewhat of a gloomy mood as I sit down to read my daily dose of scripture this morning, and I bet you are now too, if you weren’t before. In keeping with His extraordinary sense of humor and good timing, God has lined up for me today a very propitious passage. As I open my bible to the book-marked page at Luke 12:22-33, my eyes are immediately drawn to a bold heading above the verses I’m about to read. It says, in a very objective and authoritative, yet casual, italicized font:
“Do not worry.”
“Funny,” I think, with a nod to God. I read the passage with great concentration and an earnest desire for tranquility. Jesus is encouraging the crowds with words of comfort and reassurance about how God will take care of them. Don’t have an anxious mind, He says, because God knows about everything you need. Seek first His kingdom.
It isn’t sinking in.
I read it again, slowly, trying to soak my brain in it. But the grumpy mood is still hovering all around me, distracting me, making faces and kicking me under the table. I remember how our youth director at church, Melissa, gets the kids to visualize bible passages because it helps them concentrate on the message. She has them read a passage and then close their eyes and imagine the scene in vivid detail. It creates more impact, she says. Although some folks at church are suspicious of any bible study tool that involves using one’s imagination, especially a teen-ager’s. I decide to give it a try, to visualize the passage. I take a very deep breath and blow it all out very slowly and close my eyes.
Lilies of the field. Treasure in heaven.
I see Jesus standing on the rugged mount. It’s a sunny middle-eastern afternoon, the wind is gusting through his shoulder-length and surprisingly well-conditioned brown hair, and billowing around his super-white 100% organic cotton robe. The disciples are all sitting around his feet in their raggedy, itchy, burlap robes, listening attentively and in eager expectation. I listen to the voice of Jesus on the mount, and I let my thoughts float along on the Jerusalem winds.
Do not worry. Do not be anxious.
Put your treasure in heaven.
Treasure in heaven. Treasure.
Tuition payment. No, two tuition payments
Recession. No bonus this year.
Should have saved more.
Idiot stupid idiot
I try to take in the comfort of this wonderful passage from Luke, but my worried mind is going elsewhere, and I find that I am becoming alarmingly cynical towards that sweet bible passage. This happens to me every now and then – I’m trying to get comfy with Jesus, but this harsh, skeptical, cynical voice butts in and ruins everything. And I feel compelled to see where it’s going to take me.
So here’s what that cynical voice in my head is saying about the “Do not worry” passage in Luke 12:23-33: Sure, it’s easy for Jesus to tell these people not to worry. He didn’t have the financial responsibilities of a family to worry about! Neither did Peter, or Paul, for that matter. None of them schlocks had wives or kids to take care of! (Apparently bible scholars still debate if Peter or Paul were married, but the fact that this even is a debatable question shows the lack of priority the women and children must have had in the scheme of things.) Those disciples and apostles didn’t have a mortgage payment, or car repairs, or the care and well-being of their wives to think of, or college tuition payments to worry about so that their kids could get a decent start in life and avoid spending the next ten years paying off college loans the way their parents did.
The great founding fathers of our faith have very little to say about the sticky little pressures of modern family life. Couldn’t Jesus and the other guys who wrote the gospels and the epistles have given us parents and spouses a little more credit? Instead we hear them encouraging men to stay single, don’t get married unless your loins are burning up. It’s like Jesus called on these random guys to be his disciples, and bam! Just like that they leave their jobs, families and homes. Goodbye responsibility, hello Jesus!
It would have give me great comfort if, just once, Jesus told someone that the kingdom of God would be better served if he stayed at home, kept his job and took good care of his family rather than abandoning it all for the gospel.
“Jesus approached a young man named Bartolomes at his place of work and said, “Follow me.” Bartolomes immediately dropped his spreadsheet tablets (for lo, he was an accountant) and got up to follow Jesus. His wife and six children however, chased after him frantically, crying out desperately for him to remain with them and help pay the bills so they could eat three squares a day and have a decent roof over their heads.”
Jesus, aware of the potential family meltdown, turned to Bartolomes and said, “No, I did not mean for you to follow me, literally. Dost thou not have a brain in thine head to think with? I meant follow me in your heart. You will do more good for the Kingdom of God by faithfully loving and caring for your family as if you were loving and caring for me, than you ever would by gallivanting across the land.”
Wouldn’t that be great?
I wish that the bible had something more uplifting to say for those of us who gave up all of our youthful ignorance, idealism and self-centeredness of single living in exchange for becoming productive and responsible citizens, devoted and loving parents and spouses. It’s fulfilling, certainly, but at times it’s also difficult and stressful and expensive and time consuming.
There’s plenty of stuff to worry about. (To be Continued)