Saturday, August 04, 2007

Brief Returns and Invisible Spirituality

I survived another week of 5th and 6th grade camp. It's weeks like this that remind me how far I am from the Kingdom of God and why I opted not to be a children's / youth minister. I consider myself blessed, in that I only have a partial week (3 days!) of church camp this coming week. This time, it's with 3rd and 4th graders.

You get to the end of a week of camp, and people pat you on the back and thank you for your sacrifice and service and patience. However, I find that--most of the time--following Jesus is not an exercise in gaining approval from your fellow human beings.

The problem, you see, is that much of being a Christian is about what's going on inside your mind and heart. You might be impressed with how patient I was with a rude person, but you don't really know how many other options I considered before choosing to be pleasant and polite to the jerk! If I had a teletubby-esque TV screen on my belly that listed all the other things that passed through my head to say or do, you would undoubtedly be wowed by my level of self-control and compliment me on my spiritual walk.

By the same token, I might be impressed that you turned down the lustful advances of an attractive person and be in awe of your courage, but I probably won't say anything to you about it. If you had a computer read-out on your forehead that only I could see showing how difficult resisting that temptation was, I would probably pat you on the back and treat you to dinner.

But I can't tell what's in your heart. And you can't tell what's in mine. The result is that we will likely never acknowledge how much work it is for us to treat each other with unconditional love and respect, no matter how aware we are of our own flaws!

It's times like that, when I am feeling under-appreciated for what I perceive as spiritual giantism, that I am reminded of what Jesus says in Matthew chapter 6 about doing the right thing "in secret"--that is, not for the purpose of being noticed and commended by others. When we do those things "in secret," then our Heavenly "Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward" us. (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18) While Jesus is talking about not doing the right things for the wrong reasons; i.e., to be patted on the back by others, I find it comforting that the One who really matters sees us and will reward us--and His rewards are far superior to the "attaboy!" or "attagirl!" that we might receive from one another here and now.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:23-25

1 comment:

The Ironic Catholic said...

Amen! Preach it, brother!