Is it Enough?
The other day my husband read part of a magazine article to me. The gist of the excerpt questioned our North American emphasis on achievement and accomplishment. It suggested that this “gotta-reach-the-top” mentality has even permeated Christian culture.
It struck a chord with me, because I’ve been thinking the same thing lately. Not that we shouldn’t have plans, goals, purpose and drive. But my observation is that many people… including Christians… including myself at times… feel an enormous pressure to do something really big in their lifetime.
As Christians we owe a lot to the “greats” of Christendom… the apostles, the church fathers, the early martyrs, the fiery evangelists. But I’m recognizing that we are perhaps even more greatly indebted to the “suburbia” Christians of the past… the everyday, common, simple-living believers who worked hard just to survive, but managed nevertheless to maintain their faith and even pass it on to the next generation.
Growing up in the church I definitely had a “blue-ribbon Christian” mentality. I considered pastors and missionaries to be God’s award winners, His special pets. Certainly they were the cream of the spiritual crop… obviously more genuinely committed than the average Joe Christian.
But now I’m not so sure.
True… giants like Peter and Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Sunday and Graham have been used by God to influence whole cultures. But their work would have been wasted without the persevering peons of His kingdom. These were…and are… the folks that get up every day to do mundane work because they must in order to put food on their tables, clothes on their backs and roofs over their heads. Yet in the midst of the ordinary, they are extra-ordinary people, because they love Jesus and strive to live like Him in their own little corner of the planet. They love their spouse and their children; they care for their neighbors; they live honest, upright lives; they keep the faith in their lifetime and inconspicuously transfer it to their progeny.
And so I wonder… could it be that this is enough? Is God’s hall of fame different than ours? Is it possible that it includes not only the renowned of Christianity, but also its most obscure saints? Does it include the folks who never preached a sermon to a crowd… never wrote a best-seller… never launched a revival? But they prayed; they believed the Bible; they taught it to their children; they touched those around them with kind words and actions; they kept Christianity alive.
· I Thessalonians 4:11,12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
On the one hand, I can’t help thinking that God is disgusted with many of today’s “American-dream” Christians. The faith of these suburban believers is little more than an occasional add-on to lives centered on acquiring more wealth, leisure time and fun. I regularly have to guard against this mentality. But on the other hand, I must also guard against the lie that says Christians must do something truly “great” in order to count in God’s kingdom.
So I think I’ve decided I want to do a great job of being an ordinary Christian… content to love God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself. Whether that simple life is lived out in a high-rise city apartment, or in a country bungalow with a white picket fence is not so important. Whether I’m known by crowds or only by a handful of family, friends and neighbors is not critical. I’ll be content with contributing my little bit and trusting God to use it as He wants. And I think that just might be enough.