Not too long ago, I was listening to an interview with John Ortberg on the Catalyst Leadership podcast.* He told the story of a young mother who reflected that she used to find it easier to pursue God before she had kids. She used to have more time for quiet prayer, Scripture reading, thoughtful reflection. Now she found those things replaced with feeding, bathing and cleaning up after her children. Most of us nod, thoughtfully and sympathetically with such a mentality, however Ortberg highlighted a dangerous assumption that underlines such thinking – the mentality that “some things count, and some don’t.”
Most of us live in a highly task-oriented world. And those tasks are supposed to produce results. Success or failure is based upon whether or not our boss accepts the project that results from our tasks. If they don’t, then everything we’ve worked on for the past week, month, year doesn’t count; we have to go back to the drawing board and start over. The academic world is like this too; fail to produce assignments that are sufficiently up to the professor’s standards and you face taking the class over.
It’s little wonder that we quickly realize that some things count, and some don’t. “Good” projects count; they help us towards our goals, they allow us to pass the class. “Bad” projects don’t; they force us back to the beginning and make us do things over.
Many of us, myself among them, import this into our spiritual life. We believe that when it comes to pursuing God, there are things that count, and things that don’t. Maybe there are even “good” spiritual practices such as silence and solitude and “bad” ones such as sneaking in a worship song on the commute to work. We tend to count the “good” practices as more significant than the “bad” ones.
Yet to do this shows we deeply misunderstand what it means to live under Christ’s lordship. To proclaim that Christ is Lord is to recognize that every aspect of our lives exists in submission to him. He doesn’t just delight in the “good” practices, he delights in them all. As we submit everything to him, he delights both in our times of silence and solitude, and when we are working hard on a paper, or putting together a beautiful presentation for our next meeting.
The Incarnation marked the sacred invading the mundane, God becoming man. The Resurrection marked the mundane becoming sacred, man becoming like God. We live Resurrection lives in which those things that are mundane, those things that we scoff at as having no spiritual relevance, have become sacred.
We cannot afford to think that “some things count, and some don’t” because it cripples us. It becomes a competition to stack up more things that count than things that don’t, so that we can be satisfied with our spiritual lives. The reality is that since we live under Christ’s complete reign, and since he has provided the way for the mundane to become sacred, everything counts. It’s not about striving to have more “good” than “bad” practices, it’s about a way of life that seeks after him in every activity, whether caring for children, eating a meal with a friend, writing papers, or sending an inter-office memo.
It all counts because it’s all an opportunity to submit our lives to Christ and follow after him more closely.
*To listen to this episode, click here.