Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is shoveling rocks hard?

Last Saturday I was able to attend the Denver Rebelution conference with some friends, and it was a great experience. Alex and Brett have a good message, and I appreciated how their father provided a strong foundation of godliness for the whole conference. In short, he said that nothing matters but what we do for Christ.

The next day after church we were fixing up the landscaping in front of our church signboard when a woman came out to see what we were doing. She had come along with us to the Rebelution, and she was very impressed with what she had heard. When she saw what we were doing she exclaimed, "Wow, a day after the Rebelution and we're already doing hard things!"

I've been thinking about that statement for the last two and a half days now, and I've realized why it has plagued me: such a statement takes an exclusivity away from such a creed, and decreases its value. I have no problem with shoveling rocks, and neither did any other person who was helping. Shoveling rocks is not really hard. I suppose that's a subjective statement, but I hope you understand what I mean.

When I think of "Doing Hard Things," I automatically append "for Christ" in my mind. Paul writes in 2 Timothy, "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs" (2:2a), "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." (2:23), and "...pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2:22).

When I read those verses, what I hear Paul saying is, "guys, just live for Christ. There is no secular." Paul has also told us to do everything for Christ, and through Christ. Shoveling rocks should be done for Christ, but it's not hard. We are all different people, but I think we can all define "hard" as something like street evangelism, shameless ownership of the Gospel in every situation, and confession of sin. It is our desire and joy to do these things, but they're still hard.

To conclude, I simply want to warn about degrading the poignancy of "Do Hard Things." Sure, there are small hard things such as shoveling rocks, but those are the thankless jobs. I sincerely do not want to see it become another meaningless expression used to guilt-trip children into doing something. I want to keep it as a term describing the joy we have in living abundantly for Christ, and doing every task He sets before us whether Hard or Easy.

I suppose that I should also take some of Paul's words unto myself: "Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen" (2 Timothy 2:14). I hope this is not what I'm doing, but I believe that I am not. Take it for what it is.


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Dear Timothy

According to the promise of life
In Christ Jesus,
I thank God whom I serve
With a blameless conscience.

For God did not give us
A spirit of timidity;
But of power and love,
Self discipline dear Timothy.

So do not be ashamed
To testify in the Lord,
But suffer in the Gospel
By the Power of our God.

Grace was given us
'Fore the start of time,
But has now appeared
In Jesus who brings life.

THIS is why I suffer
As I am, and not ashamed,
Because I know whom I believe,
Who guards my soul until that day.

And even though deserted,
As I preached the word in Asia,
We live strong in our Christ Jesus,
By the power of His grace.

Endure the hardships that beset us
As a soldier serving Christ,
For the man who serves his army
Lives no civilian life.

Remember our Lord Jesus,
Who by God's will rose from the dead,
Which is the Gospel that I work for,
For the sake of the elect.

If we die with Him we'll live with Him,
If we endure we'll also reign.
If we disown Him, He'll disown us,
But He's faithful to the end.

Don't quarrel about the small things,
Just teach the word of truth.
Avoid your godless chatter,
Flee desires of your youth.

Pursue righteousness and faith,
Living lovingly in peace.
Do all this with your brothers
Who for the will of God they seek.

Now mark my words in these last days,
That men will love themselves.
They state belief in God,
But deny His power over Hell.

And Timothy, you know
Of the life I choose to live.
Everyone who lives for Christ
Will be hurt or maimed or kicked.

But you see that in the Scriptures
(That will surely make you wise),
God has breathed for our instruction,
And made us righteous in His eyes.

So in the presence of our God and Christ,
Who'll judge the living and the dead,
And in the view of His appearing,
And the words which I have said,

I charge you, my dear Timothy,
Preach the word and be prepared.
Correct, rebuke, encourage,
With great patience and great care.

Keep your head at every moment,
Do the work for which we're called,
Live as an evangelist,
Like I, your brother, Paul.

Dear Timothy, I'm weary.
Do your best to come at once.
The Lord be with your spirit,
Greet the faithful whom I love.

Reflect on what I'm saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all of this.

I wrote this yesterday, after finishing 2 Timothy. Basically it is an effort on my part to understand the text better.