“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed.” (Luke 8:16)
God has a plan for your life.
Do people still say that?
I guess they still do, since when we look on the Internet we find all sorts of celebrity Christians assuring us that this is so, and a key tenet of the doctrine is that God has made us each special, and He has special things for us to do.
It’s not a bad piece of fish bait, incidentally, if people actually believed it, but once we’re hooked into establishment Christianity with a promise of good news — that we are cherished, unique, have a meaningful purpose, and are precious to our creator (all very true, incidentally) — the boot drops on our bare foot with the attendant caveats:
“Well yes, God has given you skills and talents, with the desire to use them, but more importantly, He wants to take you out of your Comfort Zone! So, with that in mind, He’s going to give you work that you do NOT have the skill, ability, or interest to do.
“That’s why God’s plan for your life includes coordinating children’s church. And finding volunteers for Saturday Clean-up Day. And attending next week’s webinar on being a dutiful servant of the church community.”
What I mentally call The Baptist God (although He’s found in multiple evangelical denominations) is such a petty, illogical Person, one who lights a lamp and stuffs it away, who so micro-focuses on our daily activities that we freeze into inertia. The whole “comfort zone” concept, which author Dr. Judith Bardwick defines as “a behavioral state where a person operates in an anxiety-neutral position” (sounds just like something Jesus would say, doesn’t it?) relies upon teachings from the ever-morphing world of psychology. But that’s not so unusual — much of what is preached as Biblical wisdom these days finds its roots in temporal philosophy.
The other day I found myself tasked with a dream chore: at someone else’s expense, I was to go shopping. The person paying, headed into assisted living, needed bedding, towels, personal effects, extra clothing, and the little things that make a place special. Color, style, design — it was all up to me. With a female progeny at my side, we spent an entire day feeling fabric, squeezing towels, seeking gentle, yet happy colors.
Shopping, or Driving Fence Posts?
Now under the Baptist God, this task would have been relegated to my husband or son, both or whom recoil at the word, “shopping,” and animatedly discuss paddock fencing for the garden and livestock. My daughter and I would have been given fence post drivers, all in the name of taking us out of our Comfort Zone.
But forgotten is the person moving into assisted living, whose literal comfort zone will be compromised by the right job being given to the wrong person. We forget that, when God gives us work to do, His single focus is not necessarily how the work impacts us, but how it affects others as well. With this in mind, only a foolish manager (and there are many of those) would choose the least qualified employee.
And this is exactly how corporate Christianity works. Maybe we should start reading Jesus’s words more, and listening to the voices of those who don’t know Him, less.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I encourage Christians to stop accepting the loud, insistent, strident voices as purveyors of truth.
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