There has been a lot of adjustment lately. First that whole time change thing and yesterday we had our first "real" snow fall. So how have you doing fighting back against snow and falling back? Spring forward; fall back. These past couple of weeks our bio-rhythms have been batty, fighting back after “falling back” or maybe even “falling flat.”
You cannot wake up “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” to birdsong when all the song birds have flown south and the only feathered friend you see on your morning walk is the occasional owl.
It's hard to argue with us dogs when the door opens for a gloomy, rain or snow soaked “morning” walk is rejected with horror and we beat a fast-track back to our snuggly doggy bed. Or in my case back to my MOM's bed.
Cold, dark days make us want to hunker down and veg out. The feeling that all there is ahead of us is a cold, dark future can bring on a kind of “root vegetable” behavior.Getting up every morning, keeping motivated, giving all we have to our family, our church, our community, our friends is not easy under these dark conditions.
The concluding commands made to the Thessalonian community (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13) addressed the threat of “idleness” to the life of the faithful. This “idleness” was not just a sitting-around-watching-TV all day- kind of inactivity. It was the idleness that took on the activity of despair, disorder, and disobedience. Those who thought their faith entitled them to a life of support and special treatment disobeyed the apostolic examples of daily toil and labor Paul and his companions had demonstrated personally.To all these wrong-headed notions there was one simple apostolic answer: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” Paul rejected the world of patronage and privilege. Instead he advanced a new ethic of labor as love — love for Christ, love for each other, love for the unlovely, and love for the future.
Over a decade ago the media was transformed by a quirky British import that was renamed “American Idol.” The quest to find the next big pop star became a national obsession and a billion dollar industry.
As other “reality” based programs have spun off “Idol’s” success, it has become more and more obvious that the true “American Idol” is a quest for the ultimate “American Idle.” This is not the “idleness” of simple couch-potato sloth. This is our American Idle quest for a life and lifestyle that has no purpose, no goal, no commitment to “doing what is right” or doing what is good, what is true, what is beautiful.
The American Idle obsession is easy to find and define. We validate it endlessly. It's the “work of being the busybody” instead of the “work” of doing any genuine “work.” We glorify and glamorize the idleness of busybody work.
Need an example? Our peeps are offered “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” “Jersey Shore,” and “The Real Housewives of . . . . (L.A., D.C., N.Y.C.–-you pick) as the new social pathways to patronage and privilege, as the alternative to working for your bread and working because of Christ’s righteousness and love.
All the hottest electronic advances seem to share one common thing: a vowel. “I” as in i-pod, i-phone, i-pad, i-Tunes, I-messages. The peeps can’t even do a “Wii” without two “ii’s.” “I” of course stands for “individual. The electronic culture is all about maximizing the power of the individual. Do your own thing, on your own time, for your own advantage. All those “i” creations are far too often expressions of Idleness.
What if instead of connecting individuality to the world’s social network of power and privilege, we found some other “i-tunes” to play? What if instead of Idleness we chose Individual Initiative? What if instead of Inactivity we chose Individual Industry? What if instead of Excess we chose Individual Integrity?
The reason why initiative is so important is that the distance from 0 to 1 is greater than the distance from 1 to any other number. One of the hardest things in this world is to go from nothing to something. It takes initiative. And a key method of fighting back against fall back, is to exercise some initiative to move something from 0 to 1.
You know what? People will make a mess of anything, of everything, and it takes major industry, with showers of God’s grace to climb out of old pits and to keep from falling into new pits.
A certain music critic, covering a performance of a Beethoven concerto, played by a master pianist, set down his highest praise in a one-sentence review, he said: “Beethoven would have liked it.” Integrity is living in such a way that Jesus will like it. Integrity is hearing Jesus say of us what his Father said of him: “Well done. Your life, your ministry, brings me great pleasure.”
This does not mean that a life of integrity will not have falls and failures. Fine Oriental rugs can be distinguished from machine-made rugs by their curious variations in patterns. In Middle Eastern villages, where each Oriental rug is hand-woven under the direction of a master-weaver, it often happens that a weaver makes a mistake. But when a mistake is made, instead of pulling the work out to correct the error, the master-weaver finds some way to incorporate the error into the pattern. Experts say that the exceptional beauty of complex design in the rugs often is due to the skill of mater-weavers in turning mistakes into works of art.
Everyone has the God-given potential to become a uniquely beautiful masterwork of God’s creative art. The “work” of being “busybody,” the “work” of being an “American Idle,” is exhausting. The work of initiative, industry and integrity, the “work” of being the beloved and laboring for “doing what is right,” is exhilarating.