I wonder how our dreams of the future get in the way of our faith?
There is nothing wrong with having your child on your shoulders in a parade. It’s a great thing. I’d like to think I have a future of a family with smart kids and beautiful wife coming somewhere down the line, and on that saturday in December we go to the Christmas parade and have an idyllic family moment you could take a photo of and put in a scrapbook.
I wonder if we dream too small though. I wonder if the parade gets in the way.
Lots of times, we can settle for good things when there is the possibility of amazing out there, and while there is nothing wrong with a successful life of careerism (making money, doing good for your community, giving back) and family-ism (having the 2.5 kids, beautiful wife, do people have white picket fences anymore?), maybe they aren’t all there is. Maybe what’s good gets in the way of what’s best.
What do I mean. I think we should have families and successful careers. But if you’re a dude like me, or a dude-girl, who dreams of doing something epic with their life, of doing all we can to make the world a better place before we run out of breath, then there must be more and we’re settling. Your job can be your dream, actually, and I’m glad for those people. Starting a restaurant or shop of some kind and adding to the community is big. Plus, your family is like your kingdom, and it’s good to be a queen or king over something at one point in your life.
The question is: what kind of kingdom do we want ours to be?
Have we thought it through? Many people have not. They choose business school or law for many reasons, but one of the large ones is it gives you the most prestigious degrees there are, which comes with status and money. We’re all complicated people, I can’t reduce us to one motivation, but let’s admit it: status is in the mix.
Is status keeping us from a better and bigger life? From a bigger and better status?
I wish we could all go to law school or business school, but to go there with a sense of purpose. A mission. Take what you know and go back home to fix a broken business, to repair a community torn apart by conflict, to do justice in an area that lacks it. First that requires a sense of mission. It requires seeing a need in the world, seeing your talents, and matching the two together. Is that what we’re doing with our futures?
I wonder if our God is too small. Why would we need the bible when our lives are good enough? We have enough money, enough success, enough status, enough ethics even just from being an American. We’re not bad people. Why do we need church? Why do we need the bible, it doesn’t really fit in with those things.
The answer is because it’s true. We settle for too little. If there is no search for truth, no curiosity about the world, no love of justice and mission and doing something that counts, not hearing someone say: “you have the strength and the power to fix this problem – go do it” —- then we’re settling. The bible has more reliable sources and manuscripts than any other historical document ever, and jesus is the most famous person in history. Why do we ignore this? Why do we settle for what everyone else is doing. Are we ashamed of what it might mean? Are we afraid to give up the pleasure for a better one?
What if we thought about what Jesus was up to? What if the best man in the history of the world knew something we don’t because we’re blind to what the best life is? And what he went around doing was the most fulfilling and life giving thing you could do. It might at first appear to be a complete suicide of status – after all, he was killed for saying what he said. But what if status was something much more eternal and lasting than what we think it is here on earth? What if we are settling for far too little, but God had an epic life for us that we didn’t bother to consider.
We are far too easily pleased. CS Lewis knew that: why do we settle for mud pies in the slums when there is the option of a holiday at the sea?