How grateful are you? Recently I have hit this patch where I am hyper aware of the people in my life that do awful jobs and I am extremely grateful. What sparked it was walking out to my car today with almost intolerably cold and windy weather conditions. It was miserable to be in just to walk out to the car, and then I realized; my garbage men are riding on the back of a truck picking up other people’s garbage, all day. I have never thanked them for that. Is it their job? Yeah they get paid for it. But still when was the last time you thought to say thank you to these men? If you are like me then most of the time even if you are out there when they are you try to pretend they aren’t there. If it were not for them you would have piles and piles of moldy bread and Chick-Fil-A wrappers to deal with. I spent my short drive to work trying to think of ways I could thank them for what they do.
The other thing that came to my mind was how thankful I am to my brothers over at Duck Commander. They have no way to know how much joy they bring into my life just by simply letting me watch them live. I find my self saying “Well Hey” and “Jack” way more than I used to. I have also adopted the Phil Robertson thumbs up. I don’t know why it just seems happier and more enthusiastic than a normal thumbs up. These people are a part of my family and even though they have no idea who I am, they bring me so much encouragement. The best days I have are ones that start with watching their show. There is so much negativity in this world, ESPECIALLY on that television. Its nice to know that I have family committed not just to putting out something fun to watch but using that as a springboard to give people hope. I think that’s what makes this show so special to me.
So what does that have to do with being grateful? I don’t know the Robertson’s, even though I’ve read Willie and Korrie’s book and plan to read Phil’s. The Robertson’s don’t know me. But I am thankful to them for the encouragement they bring me. I would like to meet them, not because they are famous, but because I would like a chance to tell them face to face that I appreciate what they do. And this sparks another thought in me. Gratitude, REAL gratitude, inspires action. Because I became aware of my gratitude I wanted to do something for these people that I don’t even know. If Jase Robertson were to send me a tweet asking me to pick him up at the airport and drive him to West Virginia, I have to say I would do it. And it isn’t because from what I have seen of him, he seems to be a kindred spirit, its because I almost I feel like I owe him for the joy he has unknowingly brought me. It’s not an indebtedness but more of a I WANT to do something for not just Jase but even my garbage man. If he were to come up and ask me to use the bathroom or for a cup of coffee or something, I would happily do that.
It made me wonder how much of what I do is based on my gratitude. Shouldn’t the life I live be based on the gratitude of what Jesus did for me? I’m not talking about in the philosophical sense I’m talking about practicality. If I feel so grateful to my garbage man and a duck call making redneck, why do I act out my faith from obligation? Jesus the man gave his life for me, he didn’t just take my garbage to a landfill, he made it go away forever. Jesus the man gave me access to joy that doesn’t end a day or two later, not just broke a samurai sword cutting up fruit. And he has asked me for a favor, approach life looking for opportunities to bring people into him.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with a few people I interact with who are ministers as well. I have watched them be divisive, offensive, exclusive, and self righteous in one breath and then in the next one talk about grace and acceptance. I’ve watched them try to make the world meet Christ on their terms. I’ve struggled with anger and disappointment at the things they said and the mindset they appeared to have. I spent way too much time trying to figure out what to say to them to make them realize what they are doing. I wanted to show them that they were alienating people. I wanted to fix them and make them the way they should be. And then like a 2×6 (he used to use 2×4’s but I built up a tolerance) it slaps me in the face; I was trying to do the same thing they were doing.
It always worries me when minister’s talk about anything with great certainty other than salvation. And when I say minister’s I mean even myself. The times I am most uncomfortable are when I realize I think I have the right answer to a question about faith. When that happens in my life it tends to become a soap box. And what I have noticed in the ministerial world is we don’t stand on soap boxes any more we wield them like weapons. We take that soap box that we are so sure is solid and we bash people to death with it. We tell them that the way they praise God is wrong. We tell them that the place they are worshiping is shameful. We tell them that the clothes they are wearing to services are disrespectful to God. And we bash and slam and crush until we meet with a logic or a reasoning sturdier than our soapbox and then we usually smash our soap box to bits. The smart thing to do at that point is to study just exactly what it was that destroyed our soap box and see what made it so strong. What we usually do, at least to my observation, is retreat back into our clubhouse with all the other people who have soapboxes like mine and put mine back together with their help and then back out I go.
The only time I saw my savior take up arms was when he saw people disrespecting people looking for hope. It wasn’t going interrupt Jesus’ worship to have people in the court of the Gentiles selling sheep and trading money. It really wasn’t going to inconvenience him at all. Who it interrupted and inconvenience were people that really had no real reason to worship God anyway. Gentiles had no reason to claim anything from God. They never got to sit in on the services. Chances are they didn’t even get to hear what was being said. They for sure weren’t went in and wrecked shop because they were trying to worship YHWH in a marketplace. And he didn’t run them out so things looked like what he wanted them to look like. He wasn’t cracking the whip to make sure people dressed right or sang the way he was comfortable. I think he cleared the temple because the Jews had written the proselytes off because they weren’t like them.
Maybe its high time we stopped acting out of what we believe is righteous indignation and more out of gratitude. That means we are going to have to leave the things that are comfortable and doing things the way Christ did. Jesus didn’t sit in the synagogue and wait for sinners to come to him, and then only when they dressed and acted appropriately. He went out and sat at the well with the Samaritan woman. He called Zaccheus down from the tree to go to dinner at his house. He met sinners where they were and offered them hope. His message never changed, but his presentation did. He didn’t tell shepherds using parables about fishing. He didn’t teach farmers using tax collector jargon. He saw exactly how people were and where they were, under the fig tree or in the leper colony, he went to them and offered them hope.
He has asked us to spread the same hope the same way. Go to where the sick, lost, hurt people are and offer them hope. Not offer them the chance at hope if they fit into what Christ has put on your heart to be. Offer them the hope that you have. The hope you have is that as broken and wrong as you are ALL THE TIME, he can still use you and he still wants you. Ties or tank tops you are valuable to him.