What We Wished Going Back to School Was Like
I have been listening to the Harry Potter books recently, and one of the interesting things about the stories is that Harry always looks forward to school starting. Even the reader (or, in my case, the listener) cannot help but look forward to when he and his friends finally pass the great doors into the school and the term begins. And what is there to not be excited about! If I was going to get to spend several months working with potions, charms, transfiguring, and flying then of course it would be exciting to start school each year.
Unfortunately, I did not attend such an amazing school, and I’m guessing you aren’t either. While there may be the occasional interesting occurrence or terrifying moment (especially when test time comes!) it is all rather boring and mundane because it is every day and uninteresting.
What is more, our time at school can seem almost a waste because while sitting, scribbling notes, or trying not to fall asleep, it seems as though we are doing nothing for God.
Do the best things of God Have to Be Exciting?
Usually, we think the best times of service, the best times for growth and devotion take place in special settings. That might be a Bible college where hour after hour is spent studying the things of God. It might be on a missions trip where you get to share the gospel with people completely different than yourself when you are way, way out of your comfort zone. It might be while participating in local ministry: leading a Bible study, leading worship music, or participating in some act of service for the community.
Whenever we think of things that really matter for God, it’s stuff like this that comes to mind, but this is really an incredibly narrow perspective. The important things of the Christian life are much bigger than what we imagine because they take up more of our lives and time. Missions trips, specific ministries, and Bible college only last so long.
Are the Boring Things Important Too?
Even the regularity of daily devotions only is a small portion of our days—after all, you probably will spend more time in class than in reading your Bible. But this is just how God designed it. While not diminishing the importance of preaching the gospel, going on mission trips, singing, or reading and prayer, we do diminish the importance of the ordinary things, the mundane things when we fail to realize just how important they are.
Let me try to prove this to you. Take a look at one of Paul’s letters: Colossians, for instance. After describing what God has done in reconciling them to Himself, Paul says,
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving,” (Col. 2:8).
To remain rooted and established, he warns them against being deceived by wise-sounding words and the traditions of men and calls them to follow the first principles of Christ. He goes on to tell them not to let any of their adversaries judge them whether they keep particular holidays (Col. 2:16)
Because of what Christ has done in His victory over the principalities and powers. The apostle draws them to a particular lifestyle: one where they are rejecting certain things. He lists fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness which is idolatry.
When am I Tempted Most?
Now right there we should ask ourselves a question: when do such things appear? When am I most likely to be tempted to lust, wrongful passions, or covetousness? Is it when I am leading music? Perhaps it’s when in a strange place trying to preach the gospel to someone of a different ethnicity? Or maybe while leading a Bible study or in Bible college?
The answer could be yes to all of these, but more likely such temptations enter in during the ordinary times when you are not actively engaged in trying to do something spectacular for God. When are you more likely to let your mind wander: while trying to remember the words to a song in front of the whole church, or while sitting at a desk listening to a boring lecture? When are you more likely to covet: when you are in the middle of a dirt-poor village while walking down the hallway of the school, or while driving home?
It’s Not All About Avoiding Sin
But it is not all about avoiding sin. Consider what is to come from when we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, that is when we do our studying of God’s word—reading and thinking about it deeply (Col. 3:16).
It is to bubble over in teaching and singing to one another. This sounds like worship. But then Paul goes on to talk about things that are every day, things based on our situation in life. He talks to wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters. He is addressing people in their ordinary lives based on their situations and stations. In parallel teaching in Titus, Paul says the conduct of slaves was to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things,” (Titus 2:9-10).
The Everday, “Boring Stuff” Matters
What all of this indicates is that the conduct of our everyday lives matters a great deal. It is so important, that when we have the opportunity to demonstrate goodness in these things it makes the sharing of our faith more effectively. Just consider the letter to Philemon. Paul sends a letter and a runaway slave back to his Christian master. Instead of ordering Philemon to free the slave Onesimus, he appeals to Philemon in love to receive Onesimus the slave back: to receive him not just as a slave, but now as a beloved brother. Such a thing would cause the sharing of his (Philemon’s) faith to be more effective (Phile. 6).
The returning of Onesimus the slave strikes us as barbaric and backward, but we must understand what Paul was doing. He was giving Onesimus the chance to glorify God by living properly in the lot that had been given him. Likewise, Paul was giving Philemon the opportunity to be a good master, to show to the entire Roman world—one where the threat of slave revolt was perpetually feared—that Christ had torn down the diving wall between master and slave, allowing them to live in peace.
This is not to diminish the goodness of the abolition of slavery or to say slavery is a good thing. What it does argue, and forcibly, is that God wants us to realize that our situations—whether slave or free, old or young, employee or student—give us the opportunity to glorify God in important ways. He is not interested in just having us read our Bibles or pray. God wants our lives and gives us our lives as opportunities to do good. He has imbued every setting with deep spiritual significance.
Every Moment is Spiritual
So in returning to school, realize that the mundane does matter. It matters more than all the special occasions because the every-day is every day. The ordinary is more frequent than the extraordinary. Set your mind on this truth. Do you want to do something incredibly spiritual? You do not have to wait for the right moment to tell someone about Jesus; you don’t have to have the right prayer for the right moment. To make every moment spiritual, then what you need to do is realize that every moment is spiritual.
Acting wisely, and conducting yourself in the right way no matter how mundane it is makes each moment spiritual and devotional. And if you want to be an encouragement, tell your teachers or parents that if they do their ordinary work to the Lord, then they have done something incredibly important and glorious.
- Mark 12:28-34
- I Corinthians 7:17-24
- Isaiah 1:10-20
- I Samuel 15:22-23
- Why do you think we so often think of really important “spiritual” things as serving in some form of ministry (like evangelizing, missionary work, leading Bible studies, etc.)? what problems might arise from having this attitude?
- Why is it important to understand that our everyday situations are filled with spiritual meaning?
About the Author:
Sam Andersen is a member of the Evangelical Free Church of Oelwein, Iowa where he has the opportunity to teach in different capacities. He holds a MA degree in History from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Ministry degree from the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development. He is the author of The Trinity Mystery a book that explores the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications, and the children’s book Falling Through the Creek. Email Sam at: [email protected].