I've been thinking about the idea of selfishness a bit lately, but not long enough for this not to be a bit scattered, so please bare with me. I am trying to be a better listener and learner, and also trying to be less a reactor. I am a pretty emotional person and it is easy for me to dive into conversations, which I don't think is bad, but I would like to move to where I think things through a bit more and be less reactive in situations. I do want to take a minute and highlight a few recent experiences and see what we can learn from them, and how we can think on them.
First, I have had several interesting conversations about God, religion and the such with people lately, and I've also just sat in on a few conversations of the same such topics by other people, and just observed. Within all this, it amazes me how much we think God revolves around us. Belief in God pretty much hinges on whether or not God fits into our way of life or if it is of any benefit to us. Much is said and done that really has God bowing to us. If we feel His terms and rules are confining, then He is a bully and is out to get us, and if He helps in our way of life then "it's about time!" Yet there is a consensus that this world is pretty screwed up and there is anticipation for God to wipe it out and create an alternative world called "heaven." Reading in the book of Revelation and through some study I have found that the Greek word for "new", when speaking of a new heaven and new earth, actually means "quality" not so much creating a world number two. There definitely is an order in which God's kingdom works, but Jesus has informed us that every breath we take is an opportunity to bring His kingdom way of life into the here and now. So quality actually comes out of God then dwelling among His people, which isn't necessarily about an alternative place, but somthing that is alternative to the world's current way of life. God did not create earth to become a garbage can that He will just throw out some day. It's more about the term "renewal," rather than destruction and tossing out. There is a lot more that goes into this study, but for now I will just highlight the key thoughts of: Humility, Gratitude, Service, or in summation, LOVE. It is not about us, but it is for us. Isn't that good enough?
Secondly, the more I find my purpose and place, I find that my heart grows for others. Because my gifting and purpose is not about happiness but helpfulness in God's story. Appreciation, beauty, worship, and laughter are found in the rhythm of community, not in isolation. I have never been more driven to be me, which sounds funny, but the more I find who God has called me to be the more I love others. And it is the love of God, for God, and others that drives me to find my purpose. Is our direction about our success, or our purpose? It doesn't have to be an either or question, but hopefully you feel for what I am asking.
Lastly, I saw 'The Pursuit of Happyness' last night and it helped push much of what I have been feeling to the surface. I think the title can be a bit deceiving because Chris' (Will Smith) definition of happiness is NOT individualized. I really think he is thinking in terms of purpose and he is not driven by selfish desires to be rich. His son's life sparkles in his eyes and he doesn't see success as monetary, but purpose finding. There was a particular scene that overwhelmed me with how God is fathering us, and I was humbled again with that truth. Will Smith's character was putting his son to bed while they were in a homeless shelter, when his son asked him, "was the reason mom left because of me?" He said to his son, "Mom left because of mom, and don't ever think it was because of you." After a brief moment of pause, his son reached out and caressed his dad's chin and said, "You're a good papa." When was the last time you took some time to symbolically caress the Father's chin and tell Him He's a good papa? I saw the movie with my brother-in-law (Ken) and his/my cousin (Robbie), and when I asked what they thought about the movie, Robbie simply said, "Grateful."
That we would be full of gratitude, humility, and love is my prayer. I cannot think of them separately, but as three qualities that work in a communal rhythm.
Peace & Grace to all this Christmas