Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The God of the Mundane
Perhaps I am missing something. It is possible.
It appears that the current evangelical climate is one in which faithfulness and spirituality are measured by the eventful and the big - the bombastic. If the waves are not huge and the shifts are not seismic then we assume a kind of carnality. We have redefined radical to the point where the only radical people in the church are those who have sold everything and gone...well, anywhere. I love those people. And that is radical. But for everyone who does not sell everything, you know, those who shop at Target, go to the beach for vacation and grab some sushi (or Cracker Barrel) weekly - is there a spirituality for them that can be called "radical?"
Am I alone in worrying there is no God for the mundane? You know for those who, in the name of Jesus, are simply faithful spouses, honest in business, love their children well and enjoy the world they live in while waiting for the next - is there a God for them?
I think we have gone awry somewhere along the way. It is no longer not enough for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church, he must now agonize over whether to sell everything to go overseas as a missionary. And you need to know, I am guilty of making people feel guilty about this. I have actually said, "It should be hard to stay where you are." Someone should have asked me, "Chapter and verse please?" But lets face it, this sounds really good and spiritual. In fact, in many ways it is really hard to stay. It is hard because no one celebrates the day-in and day-out faithfulness that goes unseen by the wider world. It is hard because life is not easy anywhere, there is no idyllic paradise in America where sin is not pervasive and the the devil is not crouching outside of custom-made doors. And it is probably hard for a few because of the guilt heaped up on them who stay and are made to think they are carnal/unfaithful for doing so.
Right now, someone is questioning whether I care about missions at all. You see, that is the problem. I do care about the spread of the gospel. But we have elevated what is seen and what is radical to the point where all other activity (or seeming lack of activity) leads people to think one may not care. That may be damnable. We must assume there are untold numbers of men and women spreading the gospel of grace quietly throughout their community and making it possible financially for others to go without making a big deal about it and telling everyone on facebook they are doing it.
Part of the problem may be we have made Paul our only hero and not the nameless recipients of his letters. Who would want to be like one of the unknowns when you can be like Paul? What pastor would want to be simply one of Timothy's appointed elders, never known and never mentioned? What man would want to be simply a day-laborer, who has believed the gospel and against the trends of the day treats his wife and children with dignity and affection, dealing honestly with his neighbors? What woman would want to be a nameless mother who at the risk of ridicule and inconvenience, huddles with other brothers and sisters in The Way and listens to a nameless teacher about Jesus? It is all so mundane.
It is almost like a new legalism is emerging. "Quit your job. Do something crazy. Pick up and move. If you do not then you are suspiciously lacking in the necessary requirements of what we deem 'spiritual.'
The rock-star preacher thing isn't helping either. Life seems so mundane after watching them, reading about them and then listening to them. Changing diapers and paying bills on time and being generous and holding the hand of your spouse and caring about your aging parents and having deep friendships and being committed to the church and crying with those who hurt - well, its just not radical enough. So absolutely mundane. And I fear that for most "ordinary Christians", they do not worship a God who can be glorified in the mundane.