Sipping a cup of Irish Breakfast tea I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself lost in a memory of beloved interactions with Christian leaders from India. The tea’s aroma and taste carried tales of suffering and triumph, salvation of family members, and faces of men and women burdened for the salvation of their countrymen. I was completely unaware of my surroundings while in this tea induced trance until someone called my name. I was immediately thrust back into the here and now. The memories faded and gave way to my four walls and the various noises of family life. However, the sense of excitement and adventure those memories birthed remained. They drew me, you know, like the smells from Bugs Bunny cartoons with the finger beckoning “Come”. And here I sat in my chair in “normal life” with dishes on the counter, a driveway to shovel, wood to stack, and a sermon to prep. What glory is to be found in dishes?
There are times I look back and remember the excitement of my first trip to China, or my first visit to an underground church and long to be back there. I recall my interaction with Indian church leaders and want to sip tea with them once again. I want to experience the sights and sounds anew. I want to relive the sense of closeness to God, of being at the heart of his work, and of gospel progress with his people. But can life be lived without the days in between the significant moments? Is an adventure truly an adventure without the highs, the lows, and the everyday moments? Can the modern Christian, driven by making an impact and living lives of purpose, be satisfied with life in the everyday?
I imagine that many of you reading this can be. You enjoy getting up, driving to work, sorting widgets, driving home, watching your favorite show, going to bed, and doing it again. Still many of you read that last sentence and almost suffocated under the normalcy of it all. Whichever tendency you have, as Christians we need to consider the everyday and how we are to live in it. There is a temptation for the one who enjoys everyday routine to forget its significance and “go through the motions”. There is a temptation for the adventurer to disdain the everyday routine and consider it a hindrance to real impact or significance. For both the result is the same: The things of everyday life cease to be accomplished for the purpose of bringing God glory and creating good for us and others.
Consider the words of Paul: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3.17). And in 1 Corinthians when Paul is instructing others about how to respond to differences of opinion and conviction within the believing community he says “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10.31). And to slaves, who had all manner of menial tasks to accomplish, Paul says “Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Col 3.23).
Take a moment to read over them again. Especially you adventurer types. It’s good to linger over something for awhile.
- Whatever you do – This phrase along with the context is general enough to include everything we do. Our words, our actions, our eating, our drinking, our dishes.
- Do everything in the name of Jesus – That one phrase in Col 3.17 sets the standard for us all. Here is what it means: I am doing the laundry as a representative of Jesus. I am plowing this driveway as a representative of Jesus. I work at ______ as a representative of Jesus. I parent as a representative of Jesus. I wake, eat, work, sleep as a representative of Jesus. What then does the quality of your work, leisure, chores, etc., say about Jesus?
- Work at it with all your heart – Put your back into it. Get serious about it. Don’t just scrub the outside of the bowl and call it clean. Be diligent and careful to do your best in every task of everyday life. You know what the opposite of this looks like. This is the guy who wants to get paid for 8 hours when he’s only worked one. This is the child who shoves his clothes under the bed and calls it clean. This is the parent who considers the duties of everyday life beneath her. Are we begrudgingly doing the dishes?
- You work for Jesus – The command to slaves (employees of the 1st Century world) realigns our thinking about all of our doing and why we are to work at everything with all of our hearts. We work for Jesus. He is the boss. We receive reward for our work on this earth from him (Col 3.24; Eph 6.8). When we disdain the duties of everyday life we make ourselves the boss and can expect that our reward will be as limited as we are.
- Do it all for the glory of God – Everything we do is to draw attention to God. Our actions in the highs and lows, and in the everyday moments are to result in praise to God from us and others. It is easy to think of bringing God glory when on a mission trip or service project. And for many people religious or “churchy” actions from singing in a worship service to devoting our lives to full-time Christian service is where God truly gets glory. But God is not only to get glory in what is categorized as religious devotion. Rather “all” we do is to bring glory to God. This is the reason we were made (check out this sermon by Thomas Watson).
So here we are between the Cross and Eternity and life has to be lived. But how should we, who have embraced so great a salvation, now live? Should we see life’s moments as divided between the significant and the insignificant, between the sacred and secular? No, God has made all actions significant and sacred to him. Ultimately all that we do represents Jesus. All that we do is for him and ultimately brings him glory, even the dishes.