Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Christian Life: Glory, Threat, Responsibility, & Work I

What follows is the first in a series written for a Core Class at Mercer Creek Church. If you're not attending feel free to interact/comment. If you are attending I'd love to have this be a follow up to the discussion/lecture Sunday morn.


No one builds a dike in Kansas. First of all, it would cost a lot of money. The project would take a lot of work and it wouldn’t be worth it. For a project to be worth the work it requires two things: (1) a threat and (2) a responsibility. There is no significant threat of flooding in Kansas, no responsibility to care for potential flood victims. Therefore, no work to be done. However, a dike does make sense in the Netherlands where there is a legitimate threat of a flood and people to protect, in other words, a responsibility.

A city doesn’t do the work of putting a stop light on an interstate. There is no threat of cross traffic collision, no responsibility to protect pedestrian walkways. Hopefully the idea is clear. For work to be purpose-filled and helpful it has to be in response to a potential threat and guarding a certain responsibility. Work, divorced from threat and responsibility becomes meaningless and leads to burn-out, apathy, and a host of other destructive things.

Oftentimes there are legitimate responsibilities and legitimate threats, but no work is done. When the threat isn’t understood, or is overlooked, when the responsibility neglected, and important work isn’t done chaos and destruction result. 2010’s Port-Au-Prince earthquake is an example; there is a fault line right underneath the country of Haiti--the threat of an earthquake is real, but the buildings in Port-Au-Prince, for a number of complex reasons are poorly built. Threat overlooked. Responsibility overlooked. Work not done. Destruction and chaos. You get the picture.

Why is it Important?
Often I talk with good people in my office who have, for some reason, stopped gathering together in community, haven’t read their Bible in months, aren’t interested being involved in ministry, or tithing. I want to reiterate: they are great people; people I can laugh with... people of faith. As I continue to talk with them I often realize that they don’t really understand the threats to their spiritual life and the responsibilities that exist in their spiritual life. Like an unprotected city they go about life as normal waiting for the flood or earthquake, no protection for themselves and none for the people they are responsible for.

Have you ever felt like that? Bible reading, evangelism, tithing, family prayer, and a whole host of other aspects of the Christian life seem dull and meaningless? This could be a sign that you don’t understand the real spiritual threat and the real spiritual responsibilities in your life. What if you understood that the world, the flesh, and the devil were coming towards you like a tsunami, shaking your life like an earthquake, coming at you like a hurricane? What if you realized the world, flesh and the devil, were making in-roads to your place of work, your family--or other spheres of personal responsibility. What if you were like a city unprepared, perfectly fine but with nothing protecting you from the real threats facing your spiritual life, or your life in general. All of a sudden the work of the Christian life becomes meaningful. My hope is that, through this Core Class, we’d all grow in an awareness of what the Christian life looks life, threats, responsibilities, the work... and all the rest!

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