Several years ago…and I know that is relative…but several years ago there were commercials for a delicious chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream treat called Klondike Bars. Apparently, there are new versions of these commercials, but unfortunately the one here is the only one I have seen. Now, this is in no way an endorsement of that product or its affiliates, but… man are those things good! Anyway, the commercials went something like this: the narrator would find someone “on the street” and ask the question, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” And then put some sort of crazy challenge in front of them and they would inevitably do whatever was asked. Now, of course everyone accepted the challenges because they were actors, but the commercials were especially catchy because of the song, and they were effective. I love those little ice cream treats. But the point of the commercial came down to passion for something. The underlying question was always, “What would you NOT do?”
These days passion for anything is in short supply. When we want something, we don’t usually have to work terribly hard for it. I mean, yes, we work, and yes we work hard, but not by comparison to what some throughout history have had to endure. In other ages before the 20th century the primary goal in life…for most people…was not to thrive or accrue things, it was to survive. To merely survive was a feat. The infant death toll was high, life expectancy was short, and even finding ways to eat were a challenge. Of course there have always been rich and prosperous people, but that number was not always as large as it is today. Today…at least in the US… survival is easy. The poorest of poor can survive, and the fact is the vast majority of people are not among the poorest of poor. Our goals are higher, loftier…they are to not only survive but to thrive. To live in relative comfort and ease. Now, before I come across as some sort of martyr, I should point out that I am writing this on a Apple laptop computer in an air conditioned room with a wifi connection having just enjoyed a somewhat overpriced beverage from my favorite little coffee mega company (I have a gift card). It’s not somehow wrong to work in order to thrive, but the fact is what we work for is not as necessary for survival.
As we look a little deeper at ourselves, can the same thing be said for our spiritual lives? I mean are we working to survive, working to thrive, or are we working at all? Do we live with a passion for the Lord? Jesus said something kind of disturbing for our eyes to read in the book of Mark. “Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, ‘Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?’ The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: ‘You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.'” I always wondered why. Then I looked at my own life. It is so easy for me to get stuff that I forget that the one thing I can’t get without work is developed spiritual life. I know that my salvation has nothing to do with my work, but if I want to enjoy a full life in Christ, I have to work at it. This goes beyond going to church, reading my Bible, spending time in prayer, tithing, personal worship, and so on and so on…these are important things for sure, but these things can become just a check list of dos and don’ts. So where does the real work come in? What would you do for your spiritual health? I think the real work comes in the daily and weekly and monthly difficulties of life. Right now, I am going through a period of two or three really difficult days. I’ve been sick, had a series of car troubles that have left me stranded once, had to attend 6-hour lectures on church government, and have just not been feeling up to par. So what do I do? My gut is to curse, throw things, give up, lash out at people, and even blame God. But discipline requires prayer and faith. This is not necessarily calm and emotionless, but to see each and every day as an opportunity to rely on God to supply what He knows I need. The Lord knows I am not perfect at this, but in these moments I have to ask myself, “What would you do for your spiritual health?” Is it worth fighting against my instinct to give up, or lash out? Is it worth putting my church involvment up as a major priority in my life? Is it worth me spending time with my Lord who promises to supply my needs and to give me rest?
It is certainly a process, and not an easy one, but it is worth it.