7 | verse of the week: sacrifice, trust, and culture.


be warned: you might think i'm crazy after this post. but hear me out.

i wonder what life would look like 
if i actually, truly, whole-heartedly worked for the glory of God's Kingdom?
instead of working for the glory of society's Kingdom.

have you ever thought
that maybe there is something very, very wrong with the system?
that maybe the way we are interpreting how to live this life as Christians
is more influenced by this culture than we'd care to admit? 

E and i were discussing this last night. as i get closer to my graduation date, i wonder what kind of job i will get. or even find. in this job market, the odds are against me and i worry about it constantly. 
but let's say i get a standard 9 to 5 at a company in Tampa. just pretend for a moment here that i have a full-time job. 

let's face it: the majority of us work for a paycheck. we get jobs in order to make money so we can support ourselves and those we love, so we can have or keep our home and our comforts. 

i asked myself last night, what would God think about this? if he walked into my home, would He be glad that E and i are working these 9 to 5 jobs? would He commend our work ethic and our commitment to them? would He be glad that we are working towards our retirement and putting money away in our savings? 

maybe i'm looking at this from an extreme viewpoint. i mean, of course i am! because God's dream is extreme, transformative and uncomfortable for us--and we try to justify this life we live out of fear. even as i write this i'm thinking, "oh, come on--God's happy for me! I'm doing my best! He wouldn't force me to give all this up, would He? these are gifts, blessing straight from Him!"

are they? 
i'm not so sure. 
to be honest, i think society, Christian and secular alike, is at the point where we have more trust in money than in God. maybe the dollar bill should read, "in money we trust." what's going to put food on our table? what's going to help us keep our home? what's going to help us, quite simply, live?
money.
because sadly, our work has become our idol. we worship our jobs. we spend the vast majority of our days working jobs that don't (directly?) bring glory to God so that when we're old, we can relax and enjoy life and not have to worry anymore. 
wait, what did i just say? 

our culture has sucked us so far in that we are unable to escape it. the sad truth is that we live our gospel on the side lines. yeah, we may spend a few minutes each morning doing devotions, evening meals in prayer, Sundays at church. 
but our lives are not fully devoted to glorifying God. instead, we spend our time from 9 to 5 making money. i don't deny that we don't try to include God in this. maybe glorifying God in our job is treating others with His love. helping our co-workers. going the extra mile for our boss in order to serve others. 
i think that's great! it's wonderful that we try to find ways within the system to bring glory to our Creator, to find purpose in those little things. 

but sometimes i wonder how God sees it. i don't think it was His goal for us all to have this lifestyle; i don't think His dream included a comfortable home and stable income and work from 9 to 5. sometimes i think that maybe we are all Marthas when we should be Marys. we busy ourselves with jobs that ultimately, give us nothing in the end. 
i thought about that long and hard last night. nothing. wow. how powerful is that? and we spend practically our whole lives doing this! what a waste, don't you think? just so we can have nice things right now and take it easy at age 60? that's our pay off? that's what drives us, day in and day out? where's the fulfillment? where's our purpose?

are you angry? did this hit you the way it hit me last night? 
E agrees with me but he admits: "if we didn't work these jobs, we wouldn't be able to help others. we'd be on the streets ourselves. we'd have nothing." 

i can't decide if this is true or not. i have no clue because i haven't done it. and i'll be honest: i probably never will. that's huge. that's your whole life. the world is imperfect and so are we--to some extent, we have to buy into the system, just in order to survive, to make it by. 

but there are moments when i question this. if someone truly dedicated their life to serving God, making their daily work be His glory, deep down i know God would provide. God would take care of them and meet all their needs. maybe not in the way that this lifestyle thinks is adequate, but He would.

because God is more powerful than our jobs and our money. He provides more for us than work ever can, and yet we fail to truly trust Him and rely more on our paychecks.
but oh, we are so very deeply afraid. in the depths of our hearts, we are too scared to take that drastic, life-changing leap and let go. literally let go and let God take over. 
as C. S. Lewis says in this quote, 
"We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." 
spot on, C. S. Lewis, spot on. 
we have no idea what His best will look like for us living another kind of life. the sacrifices we would have to make would be brutal. the best would be so very hard in this society. the best would not be this easy lifestyle we have created for ourselves, our comforts would be gone. the road would much more painful than it is now.
yet, God promises He would provide. 

this morning while doing devotions, E and i were told just that. 
Philippians 4:19 says, 
"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." 

how often do i look at that verse and try to convince myself of that? how many times in a day do i worry about something and fail to trust God? far, far too many. countless times in a day. 
and countless times over a lifetime. 
from my humanly, heavily influenced mind, i will never fully be able to trust. 
and while that saddens me so much, 
i take comfort in the fact that God understands. 
He knows me, inside and out. He knows my heart better than i do, and He forgives me. His mercy redeems me, as i fail time and again.
He has already forgiven all of us, for everything we have done and will do. 
He already knows we will be unable to resist our own world, unable to let go of our lifestyle. 
because that is probably what it truly means to give your life to God. 
and for all of us today, that is the biggest sacrifice of all. 

but ultimately, we all just have to try to do the best we can living the gospel. show His love as much as possible and try to figure it out. 

one thing is for sure: we must be thankful for all of this. maybe because our jobs don't directly work for His glory, we must at least make them work, in some way, for Him. we are so blessed, in earthly ways living as we do, that we have every opportunity to thank our God, praise Him and glorify Him in everything we do. as Max Dubinsky says here (a must read!), "No matter how much we have or how well we are doing, our hearts must never lose sight of God."
check out Katie's post on Hope Engaged (another sign i got this morning as i was thinking about writing this post!) 

would you do it? would you--could you--give up everything for Him? what do you think about all of this? how can we better live for Him in this world and culture? what would it really look like? let's talk!

Ps. this post does not aim to ridicule anyone for their career path or lifestyle--i myself have not chosen a self-sacrificing path and am victim to the same demands of our culture. i write this only to contemplate, as a lesson i have learned and a verse that has spoken to me this week. this is only my own personal opinion and i am always open to hearing and engaging in other perspectives as well!