When I was 17, I spent my Spring Break on a mission trip in the desert of Arizona building a sidewalk and conducting Bible Clubs for children on a Native American Reservation.
Life on “the Rez” was not easy for these people. They did not have a lot of the trappings of a typical white suburban life such as starter mansions, SUV’s and week long vacations to Disney. But every single one of them wore boots that cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000.
Boots–the missionaries explained to us–were their status symbols. The finer your boots were the more money you had and the more influence you had on the Rez. When you met someone on the Rez for the first time you got an idea of how far up the wealth chain they were by seeing what kind of boots they wore.
Sound silly? Just remember this story the next time you are impressed with or feel intimidated by someone because of the type of car they drive or the kind of house they live in.
Beyond cars and houses and gadgets and stuff, one of the primary status symbols in American suburban culture is a busy schedule. The more organizations we volunteer with, the more sports our children are involved in, and the more complex our schedule is, the more important we must be and the more important we feel.
When we ask how someone is doing; “Busy!” is often the answer we receive along with a litany of everything that person has been doing lately. We are required by social mores to be impressed. Why else would they insist on telling us how busy they were?
If we could stop for just a moment and ask ourselves what we actually are hoping to accomplish by all this activity we might be surprised. We mistakenly assume that we are creating a better life for our children, or that we are acting like responsible members of the community, or that this is simply the way life is for us, but what we are really accomplishing is the creation of a life of greater stress and pressure and a life that has no room for missional living.
We forget that this life that we are living right now is NOT all there is to our existence. In fact, this life is a mere blip on the radar screen, or as James called it; “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (4:14, ESV).” Why do we spend so much time focusing on this life and building a life of muchness and manyness when it is the life AFTER this that matters most?
As Paul said to the Colossians;
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (3:1-3, ESV).
Do we honestly believe that God is going to be impressed with the size of our home or how many cars we owned, or how many sports our children played, or how incredibly busy we were?
Don’t you think He’s going to notice when we ignore the needs of others because we are racing to our next appointment, or when we sacrifice ministry so we can get to the field or court, or when we try to squeeze Kingdom work into our busy schedules to appease our conscience rather than seeking the Kingdom first as Christ commanded us to do in Matthew 6:33?
Allow me to challenge you with something as we draw closer to a New Year. Let’s all take some serious time to examine our lives and schedules and ask ourselves this question;
“Based on my schedule, can I honestly say that I seek the Kingdom first?”
Pray through this as an individual, as a couple, and as a family. What do our schedules say about our priorities? Then ask this question:
“If we are not seeking the Kingdom first, what do we need to let go of so that we can?”
Let’s be prepared to make some room in our schedules for what God wants us to do and forget what anyone might think about it! Let’s make some room to glorify God by being more missional. Because as Ken said in his first sermon on the missional life;
To the degree that we are not living our lives to glorify God, that is the degree to which we are wasting our lives.