Thursday, November 1, 2012

City in the Dark

(New York Times)
Right now between 5-8 million people are without any kind of electrical power. Hurricane Sandy was hyped as the "storm of the century" by many on news channels obviously eager to cover something aside from the looming American election. It has lived up to its billing.

Have you ever done something that you knew was useless? I mean, have you ever worked really hard on something that you knew wasn’t going to matter or mean anything? There's an old expression in the south that says, "Don't paint the fence while the house is on fire." Nothing seems more idiotic than that. Imagine the work that goes into painting a fence. Several men painting the fence in front of the house while flames lick up the back porch, moving to the living room, and engulfing the kitchen. 

What color are they painting it?

Who cares?

Sometimes I think about the time I’ve wasted on relationships that were doomed to fail. Gifts I’ve bought girlfriends weeks before breaking up with them. Gifts they’ve bought me. The amount of effort spent trying to get the right card, to pick out the right flowers, to wear the right shirt. Then 2 months, one month, or one week later realizing that was a huge waste of time, that the girl I was trying to impress had a boyfriend already. That’s happened a lot actually, it seems to be a recurring nightmare I get to live.

When disaster strikes and your house is underwater or burning to the ground, reality hits you in the face. Certain things become really important. Certain things seem stupid. It doesn't matter what color the bedspread is while the bedroom is engulfed in flames.

While our friends in the northeast are getting slapped with perspective, we should consider this a learning opportunity. We should re-evaluate our priorities and huddle around what matters the same way most of Manhattan is huddling around the few working outlets in town. As they desperately try to find cell-phone service, we should be reminded of how precious life and human connections are.

In the first century, a man named Paul wrote to a church in Collosae. This church was struggling with the guilt and hardship of trying to work their way into heaven. Paul brought a fresh word to this church.

You aren’t working in vain.

Because Christ took away the guilt and the fear of death, your work has no end. The work of the Master is work that will last forever. You are accomplishing something that will be part of God’s new world. 

N.T. Wright once wrote that “Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of His creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or walk; every act of care and nature, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter for one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the Gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in all the world--all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.”

While your labor won't get you into heaven, it will last for eternity. It will be brought into the new creation because working on earth out of love is bringing heaven to earth--which should be our goal. Right now I am gearing up with the company I work for (TWCD) to send a team to New York to do disaster relief. We will be trying to show hope to people on the darkest day of their lives. I am encouraged by scripture and the Holy Spirit's reassurance to me that I am not working in vain, that my labor will be blessed, and that He will make all things new.

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.