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Not my circus, not my monkeys?

April 10, 2016

A friend posted this on Facebook the other day.10390893_10154086303984993_6567104136264739898_n

It is from Unoffendable: How just one change can make all of life better by Brant Hansen. I haven’t read all the book, so I am only commenting about this quote).

We Christians know, at least we ought to know, God doesn’t need us to defend the faith, or the Bible, or even God. They all got along just fine without me for 2000 yours. I’m simply not indispensable. And, dear one, neither are you.

This is not the same as saying that we don’t matter,not at all. We do matter. But we are not in charge of “the preservation of Christianity in our present age”.

My job is not to be sure everyone around me behaves and believes appropriately. That is exhausting and not possible. Believe me when I tell you this. I spent many years trying to be sure everyone behaved and believed. And was happy. And ate healthy meals. And went to bed on time… you get the picture. It is exhausting. And futile.

Or this happens. Someone got something wrong on the internet! Someone posted something I think is wrong on Facebook!  Making sure everyone is correct is exhausting. Sometimes we just need to let those things go.

Often I need to remind myself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” A slightly better way is to remind myself of the Serenity prayer.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.                          Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Certainly there are some people I have greater responsibility for- family, close friends and so on.In those relationships I may feel the need to express a concern about someone’s behavior. But I still can’t make them listen. I still can’t make them behave.

As a Christian I think I have to have a concern for everyone. But that concern isn’t to make sure everyone behaves. My concern for others should focus on their well being. Do they have enough to eat? Are they physically safe? Can they get to the doctor? Those sorts of things.

The one I am in charge of is myself. It’s my behavior I need to be concerned about. I have is to make sure I behave. I have to try every day, well to be honest, every minute, to be a faithful Christian. That’s a full time job.

The odd thing is, if I attend to being a faithful Christian, I end up being more helpful to others. People are more willing to talk with me and to listen to what I say, if they know I’m not judging them. If they know I accept them for who they are,  they know they can trust me. If they know I’m not going to “fix” them, they can tell me what is broken.

Odd how that works. Or maybe not? What do you think?


Do something small for God!

March 13, 2016

People are often exhorted to do mighty things for God. To be on fire for God! To change the world for God!

However, most of us don’t do that. Most of us are not Billy Graham or Mother Theresa or Pope Francis. Most of us are just regular people living our lives day to day and trying not to forget God- too often. Do we need to try harder? Does that mean we have let God down?

Actually, I don’t think so.

When you look at what Jesus said and did, the small things matter. Jesus spent most of his life, actually we don’t know what Jesus did for most of his life. We do know some of what he did during the last three years of his life. A lot of it was spent walking around talking to small groups of people. (I know I am ignoring Jesus’ miracles, but miracles are God’s job not ours.) Jesus spent his days with regular folks.

When Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, what did he say it was like? For the most part little things, homely things. When Jesus asked his followers to do things, he asked them to love the people around them. To care for each other.

Nothing big and dramatic. Remember when the devil tempts Jesus he tempts Jesus with big things, like being ruler of the world. Jesus declines and begins walking and talking and eating and healing.

Of course to plan on doing big things for God allows me to put it off. Once I graduate. Once I make X amount of dollars. Once I have a certain position and authority. When I am grown up. When I retire. You recognize the excuses.

The small stuff matters. Cultivating  my tiny mustard seed like faith. Giving someone a cup of water. Being kind to those around me. These things don’t require age, money or authority. We can begin living for the kingdom of God when we are toddlers. Even little children have a place in the kingdom of God.

We are called, each of us to a lifetime of tiny acts. This is one reason the church matters. That community matters. My tiny act and your tiny act and his tiny act and her tiny act- they all add up. They may not add up to a grand earth shaking event, but they might- in fact they will- change the world.

Do something little for God today.


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