Monday, November 19, 2012

I Would Like to Buy $3 Worth of God, Please (vol. 2)

This is the second in a three-part series of posts based on the following quote:

I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. - Tim Hansel on most Christians' priorities.

This second post was written by my friend, Tom Kaden. Tom came on staff at Engage Community Church when I was associate pastor and filled in for me when I took leave to have the twins.  About six months later Tom and his wife Sarah found out they too were having twins, so our families now mirror each other, since they also already had two older children.  They welcomed two beautiful baby girls into the world about six weeks ago.  Tom continues to lead at Engage and has also started a non-profit counseling ministry called Someon To Tell It To.  Tom and his business partner Michael blog at Someone to Tell it To. 

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There is a three letter word that maneuvers its way into our vocabulary and it is quite possibly more damaging and destructive to our well-being and the well-being of those around us than most of the four letter words our society deems as immoral.  This three letter word rears its ugly head nearly every time we ask our children to clean their play rooms; it rears its ugly head nearly every time we are asked to do something uncomfortable or painful by our boss or co-worker (even if it isn’t voiced out loud); it even rears its ugly head in the lives of those of us who call ourselves faithful followers of our “Lord” Jesus Christ when we read passages in the Bible which make hairs stand up on the backs of our neck.  If you haven’t guessed it just yet, then you just lost at our game of hangman.  The three letter word I am thinking of is the word: BUT…!!!

Maybe you are sitting at your job and a co-worker just asked you if you could help him with a minor issue he is faced with on his computer.  You are in the middle of an important project and you have a looming deadline hanging over your head.  Guess what word just popped into your head?  It’s that destructive word: BUT…!!!  “I’ll help you BUT…I really need to get this project done first.  Or, maybe your spouse asked you to help change a diaper (or two), but your favorite team or show is on television and you don’t want to miss a minute of it.  There it is again, that damaging word: BUT…!!!  “I’ll help you, BUT…can it wait until the next commercial?” 
 
Do you resonate with those examples?  If not, how about this one?  This morning before you started your quiet time of meditation on the Gospel of Mark, you prayed out loud, “Lord, today I recommit myself as your disciple.  You are the Lord of my life.  Direct my path today.”  After you are finished, you pick up your Bible and continue your study on the Gospel of Mark.  Today’s passage is the story of the Rich Young Ruler.   You read the story and your eyes read verse 21 as quickly as possible where Jesus says: 21"You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."  
 
“BUT," you think, "…surely, not I Lord. Surely that passage isn’t meant for me. I’m barely making enough money to support our family of five. I know this passage reads, sell everything you own and give to the poor, BUT…I have a family to feed. I can’t give out of nothing!”  There it is again, that three letter word which has so much become part of your vocabulary that it leaves you further and further from experiencing the truth of the Gospel in your own life. 
 
The truth is the three-letter word BUT could be used for good in our lives.  It doesn't always carry with it such negative connotations if used as another reminder of how the Gospel has changed us and the model that has been laid before us.  For example, in Philippians chapter 2, Paul says (of Christ):
 
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
BUT, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Notice in this passage how Paul uses the three letter word “BUT”, yet he puts a much more positive twist on it.  He reminds us, as he was reminding the church hundreds of years ago, that Christ Jesus, even though He was equal with God, set aside His rights--to serve us.  He willingly chose to not use that fateful word as a roadblock to loving others, but instead as the foundation for His goodness, grace, and compassion. 
 
So maybe for us the takeaway is this: Yes, you have a family of five to feed on very little income, BUT…God has given you something or some way to love, bless, and serve His kingdom.  Yes, your spouse just asked you for a second time to change your daughter(s) diapers, BUT…this time in your daughter(s) lives is fleeting and these moments will end soon and there will always be another game or another show to watch.  Yes, your co-worker just asked you to help him with his computer glitch for the third time today, BUT…God has given you an amazing opportunity to use your gifts to be a blessing to your co-worker in a way that maybe no one else in the office can.
Today I am reminded of Christ’s example of humility and grace and openness to God’s transformative power.  I am reminded of the great length He has gone and continues to go to extend His unconditional love and mercy to us.  This changes everything because our motivation isn’t a means of trying to earn God’s love and approval and it’s also not just about us as individuals which the negative use of the word BUT often implies.  Christ used the word BUT not as a way to close doors or miss opportunities to extend love, compassion, and grace; instead, used the word as a means of opening His very life and ours to the amazing grace, abundant compassion, and absolute love.         
[Stay tuned for my take on this quote and, as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts too.  I'm sure Tom would enjoy hearing your comments. If you like this piece, take a few minutes to explore the blog posts on his website - you won't be disappointed.] 

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff, Tommy. In your post, I'm reminded that when we say YES to anything, we're saying NO to something else. It's all choice. And we must say YES and NO to very good things at times. I guess it's in the staying centered on what God's doing and walking in that which helps us discern.

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