Our daughter is great – 3 years old and starting to see the world in crazy new ways. She’s smart. But she’s still gullible.
I’m convinced that most of parenting is done through the art of diversion, bait and switch, and all in a God-honoring, Christ-like manner of deception.
“Daddy, I want that _______!”
“Oooh, B, look over there a doggy!”
(move object of desire – B is locked into the doggy, crisis averted)
So, here’s the hard pill to swallow – we don’t grow out of this type of gullibility necessarily.
Even as adults, we’re distracted by shiny stuff, and the shiny stuff becomes far more complicated. Houses, careers, financial security, etc. None of which are overtly evil, but when they take the lion’s share of our attention they can be very destructive. Jesus understood this, and so he says
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:25-27)
This passage is in the context of Jesus talking about what the world will look like when God’s reign, His Kingdom, is starting to bust out all over.
That’s what we’re supposed to be about. Living the Kingdom. Letting go of the worry for the sake of God's care for us in the face of a world that says "Hunker down, make sure you get yours."
And even though the passage is in the setting of Jesus talking about the pursuit of stuff, we’d be nuts to think that our whole life isn’t affected by worry.
For our kids.
For our safety.
For our futures.
These can be shiny objects that distract us from one singular idea – an idea that could lead to tremendous freedom and life beyond our understanding. And here it is:
If we are walking behind Jesus, there is nothing we need that He will not provide. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Economically. Nothing.
And, on the flipside: Our worry basically says that we don’t believe the previous statement.
Now I understand that this isn’t the easiest thing, and we grow into trusting God more and more, but ultimately we live to look away from the shiny stuff. We live to put it in context and in its place in relationship to God. What does this look like? How is this part of our growing up and heading out? Here are some practices:
Sabbath – to rest from working means that we trust God to give us what we need even when we aren’t working for it. Sabbath is just an intentional time of rest that says, through each event, that God is the most important thing and I’m going to celebrate the gifts (my family, my health, nature, etc.) He’s given me.
Sabbath rejects the shiny object that says we’re in control of the universe. Sabbath says that I'm not important enough to be working and Blackberried every minute of every day. I'm not God.
Generosity- giving stuff away implies that there’s nothing we can give that won’t be replaced. This may mean money, but more than that it means time and space. For some, giving money isn’t a problem but for some protecting their time is a shiny object. Generosity as a practice gives us the opportunity to say that God is truly the one who provides our needs and He won’t call us to give if He isn’t willing to do the same.
Generosity rejects the shiny object that says we need to store up our time and resources “just in case.” God is the provider, as we pray "Give us TODAY our daily bread..."
So, what’s the shiny object that has your attention? Can you practice Sabbath and generosity in some small way today? What would your life look like with these things as regular rhythms?
Could the Kingdom of God be waiting to break through in your family, job, and neighborhood and the catalyst for that breakthrough is your movement from the shiny objects onto Jesus, the World’s true King?