Monday, July 14, 2008

Ordinary?

I was riding home a couple of nights ago when I noticed a bumper sticker. It read, ‘if you bought it, it was trucked.’ The next day I actually met a trucker as we stopped to get some ice and water. I got into a conversation with him about the bumper sticker. He said, ‘man, you don’t have anything in your house, including anything that went into building your house or out-fittin’ it, that was not delivered by one of us.’ His comment reminded me of a conversation I had had a few years ago in Toronto with a trucker. His job was to drive his truck from Toronto to Miami twice a week to pick up flowers and bring them back to Toronto. As I listened to his story it struck me how many people, and families, were blessed by his unknown work. Think about the weddings, the special occasions, the not-so, yet, quite critical moments in peoples’ lives that are directly influenced by the fact that this dear man gets up at 3:00am and heads south, by himself, to pick up fresh flowers for people he will never see or know.

Many years ago, I wrote a small booklet called, The Secret. In many ways I think it is my best work (The Secret is a free download on our web site). The point of the book was to help us realize how much of what we assume is our ‘ordinary’ lives is actually part of our participation in the Trinitarian life of God. That such a line of thought sounds somewhat strange to us is shocking proof of how profoundly lost we are in our religious darkness. God incarnate spent more time making chairs and tables than he did preaching, or doing miracles. Think about it. What did Jesus, the Father’s eternal Son incarnate, do for the vast majority of his earthly life? I don’t mean to say that we should give up on the miraculous, or, at least, what we might think is miraculous. I am all for miracles. My point is that there are stunning miracles happening in all of our lives everyday, but we can’t see them because of our religious prejudices.

While I utterly deplore the lack of expectation in our Western churches, it bothers me more that we cannot see how Jesus is involved in our ordinary lives. Let me put it this way: Don’t thank God for your daughter’s wedding if you cannot say ‘thank you’ to the trucker, or the cake designer, or the dress designer, or the gardener, or the architect, or the one who toils making sure the salad is perfect, as the ones who participated in the Lord's personal blessing. While the Father, Son and Spirit do not need any of us, the fact is they refuse, as Karl Barth has insisted, to be God, or to bless us, without the participation of others.

We all know—somewhere deep inside—that everyday we are blessed by people who do their jobs, by people who care, by people who grow or cut or dress the chickens, by people who meet, bless, care and teach our children, by people who make sure the traffic signals work, by people who work with shovels or atoms or gaze the stars to make things easier for all of us. But do we have a theology—or a Christology—that even hints at telling us who these people are who bless us so, or leads us to honor them for their participation?

Just remember: When you bow your head to thank God for the food you are about to receive, or to thank Him for your car, or your house, or the air-conditioning, or the health of your baby, make sure you thank him for the regular folks who He uses to bless you through. We don’t need to spend millions figuring out what is wrong with the Church or why it is dying. We need to see Jesus as he is—present, not absent—blessing his creation through ordinary people. And when the Church finally gets it, and starts refusing to recognize people according to ‘the flesh,’ and thus starts treating the truckers, farmers and workers, the gardeners, teachers and mechanics of the world as people who are participating in the Trinitarian blessing of creation, I suspect we will not have a problem with boredom or with an audience.

4 comments:

John Geerlings said...

Thanks Baxter for reminding me that there is much more going on. Re-read the book “The Secret” and found it shone more light into my own manufactured illusional darkness.

Galatians 2:20 has for at least the last 10 years now been an awakening scripture for me, especially when you personalize it. However this reality, Jesus, in view of renewed Trinitarian thinking over the last 18 months is where every person on the planet can put his or her name. Here is what it looks like for me!

“John has been crucified with Christ, it is no longer John who lives, but Christ lives in John, and the life John now lives in the flesh, John lives by faith in the Son of God who loved John and gave himself for John”

When I submit to the object, who is Jesus, the faith already in me opens the door to incremental freedom in my subjective thinking. To the degree that I come to know my identity by faith, is the degree that I will enjoy the Person of Jesus as He is life in me in the here and now.

I think the most cleansing thing for me was when I accepted this for everyone! There is nothing more freeing and exciting then to view other people as spiritually crucified, resurrected and ascended with Christ and their life now hidden with Christ in God, whether they believe or not.

Satan says “You are not who God says you are, therefore you do not have what God says you have” The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life still seduce me and have me play in my own myth of self absorption. However I am grateful for the greater life in me who gently and lovingly reminds me of my true identity. I am progressively becoming more acquainted with Jesus who is fully familiar with me.
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All of us since birth have been fed on and accepted a pseudo reality of performance based acceptance, when in fact all humanity has been re-created in the reality of acceptance based performance in Jesus. God believes in all humanity and so do I!

The only thing that comes to mind is thanks!

Martin M. Davis said...

Many years ago, I heard a good man and a good pastor named Kenneth Westby say that there is no secular-sacred dichotomy. In short, all life is sacred, for nothing in the universe stands outside the upholding grace of the incarnate Son. The notion of a sacred-secular dichotomy, no doubt, originates with Greek philosophy, wherein the good realm of spirit is set in a dualistic opposition to the evil world of matter. Hence “Spiritual” things are good; “ordinary” things are inferior, tainted by their association with the material. Very likely, this idea was imported into the Church by Augustine, who was greatly troubled by his own embodiment. The Christian monk, Brother Lawrence, in his little book, The Practice of the Present Moment, came close to a resolution of the sacred-secular divide. He said that peeling potatoes while thinking about God is a spiritual exercise. He was almost right. As any Zen monk knows, peeling potatoes alone is a spiritual exercise. Thanks, Baxter, for helping us Christians to return to the New Testament proclamation that all creation stands under the Lordship of Christ. Thus, every mile we drive hauling flowers, every nail we hammer, every form we process, a every baby we burp, and every picture we paint is an intimate participation in the life the incarnate Jesus shares with the Father in the Spirit.

Martin M. Davis

C. Baxter Kruger, Ph.D. said...

Hey John, how about translating 'John lives by faith in the Son of God' to 'John lives by the faith of the Son of God.' Johm has been crucified with Christ, it is no longer John who lives, but Christ who lives in John, and the life John now lives in the flesh, John lives by the faith OF Christ, who loved.....

John Geerlings said...

Hi Raxter
Right on! The NKJV says "By the"