Most of life is mundane. We wake up daily to the same jobs, the same schedule, the same bills to pay, poopy diapers to change, and chores to get done. We can feel like weatherman Phil Connors stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania waking up to an endless cycle of Groundhog Days.1
In the gospel of John, Jesus gives his disciples the great, overarching purpose for life. Jesus tells them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21)
In other words, Jesus’ followers should be about his work. Disciples declare the realities of Jesus’ kingdom to a broken world, and demonstrate life under the good and gracious rule of King Jesus.
That all sounds great for pastors, or for missionaries living in an Indonesian jungle. Their full-time job is to live like Jesus. But for average people, living in the midst of average everyday life, that all seems a little impractical don’t you think?
So why is it so difficult to make our lives about Jesus’ work? Here are three barriers:
Barrier #1: We over-schedule.
Remember Wimpy, that character on Popeye who consumed hamburgers faster than Joey Chestnut?2 Wimpy’s famous line was, “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
We may not be as concerned as Wimpy with filling our stomachs, but we are consumed with filling our calendars. We feel obligated to put our kids in all the right activities, book out our evening schedules, be involved in Bible studies, exercise classes, book clubs, and anything else we can squeeze into our week. Somehow we think we can borrow time from some future moment to pay for what we’re using today.
In the midst of all that busyness we have little time for Jesus’ primary work: people. Meeting spontaneously for coffee with someone who needs to talk is impossible when every minute of the day is filled.
Bob Goff is busy. He’s a lawyer, honorary consul for the Republic of Uganda, and author of the bestselling book Love Does. Bob also doesn’t make appointments.
Bob’s philosophy is that when life is appointment-free, your time is at the service of others instead of your personal demands. His thinking might seem extreme, but there is something to learn here.
Are we keeping life open enough that we actually have time to live for what Jesus wants us to live for?
Barrier #2: We live for ourselves.
Part of the reason we over-schedule is that we’re consumed with ourselves; with our own needs, our own goals, our own pursuits. But out of God-centered living flows other-centered actions. When we look at Jesus’ life and the lives of his disciples, their inclination was toward others.
Inclining ourselves toward others makes our problems smaller and our needs less important. If you find yourself dwelling on the mundane aspects of your life, it’s probably because your eyes are on yourself. Turn your eyes toward others and they’ll be opened to see how Jesus is working to use you in their lives.
Barrier #3: We make temporal things eternally important.
Is it really a matter of life or death whether you catch the season finale of Downton Abbey? Or landing a little closer to home, if I catch the highlights from the mid-season Miami Heat game?
Whether it's watching television, shopping, yard work, home repairs or cooking dinner, we often give temporal activities eternal importance. All is good and right if things happen how and when we want, but we’re distraught if something goes differently than planned.
But living for Jesus doesn’t mean just scrapping all the temporal “stuff” in life. Instead, infuse temporal activities with what’s eternal. What would it look like for you to watch Downton Abbey with an unbelieving neighbor instead of by yourself? Men, you might be a bit embarrassed having someone see you misty eyed over Lady Sybil’s death, but it’s well worth it eternally.
Inviting someone to go grocery shopping with you, or remodel your kitchen, or join you at the park with your kids, can infuse average everyday life with the eternal significance of Jesus’ work in and through us as we live with gospel intentionality in everyday moments.
“Don’t always expect God to give you his thrilling moments, but learn to live in those common times of the drudgery of life by the power of God.” - Oswald Chambers
1 Groundhog Day was a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray where weatherman Phil Connors ends up stuck in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania after covering the annual Groundhog Day festivities.
2 Joey Chestnut won the 92nd Annual Nathan's Hot-Dog Eating Contest by consuming 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes, which set a new world record.