Wednesday, March 21, 2012

No, You Don't Have To

Yesterday, as I was listening to Dallas Theological Seminary online lectures for my Prophets class (which I am auditing this semester), the professor began talking about ways in which we compartmentalize our 'spiritual lives'. He was talking in context of Isaiah's call to ministry to the Jews (Isaiah 6) and how we shouldn't see the 'spiritual' things we do as simply a means to an end, but as part of the process of getting to know God.

You see, when one is in seminary or any type of vocational ministry (whether actively or training) for that matter, one can tend to become more task-oriented than worship-oriented. My husband for instance is taking seminary classes full-time. His days are full of looking at Greek flashcards, reading hundreds of pages of theology books, listening to lectures being given about exegesis, and the list goes on. This is a tremendous privilege and he most certainly recognizes this! However, for all of us, when we get caught up in routine we tend to lose sight of the privileges we partake in. It is a blessing to have a job to go to every single day of the work week.. but I confess, I tire of the monotony.

As mentioned above, the professor of my online course was talking about "getting to know God" through writing term papers, and vacuuming the house. He made the fantastic point that when we separate God from the more "to-do" list type of activities, our labor will be in vain. Yet God wants us to get to know Him through not only "spiritual" experiences, but in all of life! He said that he gets excited because he "gets to glorify God through loving his wife" which he is commanded to do in the Scriptures. That might mean buying her flowers or doing the dishes, but regardless if he has set his mind on serving her lovingly and willingly (not begrudgingly or out of obligation) then he is reminded that those simple acts glorify God.

This was particularly illustrated when I worked at a Christian summer camp a few years back.  The camp ranged in age from 9 year olds to 18 year olds (4th thru 12th grade) -and thus a pretty wide variety of campers emerged over the course of 10 weeks. But although the age-range was vast, I received the same questioning complaint week after week: "Do we have to do _______?" or "Do we have to go ________?" Now the camp directors and staff had ingeniously came up with a very biblical response to this repetitive complaint, that went a little something like this: "No you don't have to ____, YOU GET TO!" Reader, do you see the difference? When we view the things that we have to do as activities that we merely drag our feet through, we will never honor God in the process of actually doing them. However, when we view our "have-to's" as privileges, however mundane, routine or dull, we will most certainly desire to glorify God "whether [we] eat or drink, or whatever [we] do" (1 Cor. 10:31). God is concerned about us getting to know Him, with our whole beings' and throughout our whole lives.

So the next time I am tempted to think that I have to make another meal for my husband after a long day at work, I will choose to thank God that I get to glorify Him through that kind of service -- what a privilege!

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