Why do you bother to “get out of bed” each day?
I ran across this quote the other day – it popped out for me:
“Our humanity is diminished when we have no mission bigger than ourselves.”
~ Bono [U2 Lead singer & global activist… a celebrity who has dedicated & used his notoriety to make a real difference for good!]
Then this morning, I was reading Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who was from Warsaw, lost most of his family in the holocaust, and came to the US eventually. His deep theology and thinking, now 40 years plus old, are still as relevant today, as when they were pinned. He was a friend and supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr. He wrote,
“Happiness is not a synonym for self-satisfaction, complacency, or smugness. Self-satisfaction breeds futility and despair. All that is creative in man[kind] stems from a seed of endless discontent. New insight begins when satisfaction comes to an end, when all that has been seen, said or done looks like a distortion.
The aim is the maintenance of fanning of a discontent with our aspirations and achievements, the maintenance and fanning of a craving that knows no satisfaction. Man[kind]’s true fulfillment depends upon communication with that which transcends him.
The cure of the soul begins with a sense of embarrassment, embarrassment at our pettiness, prejudices, envy and conceit; embarrassment at the profanation of life. A word that is full of grandeur has been converted into a carnival.
Man[kind] is too great to be fed upon uninspiring pedestrian ideals. We have adjusted ideals to our stature, instead of attempting to rise to the level of ideals. The ceiling of aspiration is too low; a car, color television, and life insurance. Modern man[kind] has royal power and plebeian ideals….
The most urgent task is to destroy the myth that accumulation of wealth and the achievement of comfort are the chief vocations of man[kind]. How can adjustment to society be an inspiration to our youth if that society persists in squandering the material resources of the world on luxuries in a world where more than a billion people go to bed hungry every night? How can we speak of reverence for man[kind] and of the belief that all men[people] are created equal without repenting the ay we promote the vulgarization of existence?
What the world needs is a sense of ultimate embarrassment.”
So, why do we get out of bed? What motivates us to the things we spend our ONE life, our energy, resources, youth focused on? Does what we invest in, reveal our core values, our heart, our desires to be really so shallow as comfort, security, entertainment, amusement? Isn’t this why our society so highly, in the west, particularly in the USA, esteems sports figures, acotrs, musicians and other entertainers? Why is it we give a brief nod to those who make real contributions, but then throw our money and find them worthy of our wealth? Rabbi Heschel is correct… we should be embarrassed, or I would boldly dare say, ashamed. Whether, saint, sinner, secular, or pagan – we have the Imago Dei – that imprint and reflection of the creator, and we are made for more, know better, deep within who we are, we know we are worth more, others worth more, life is more than those cheap vulgar substitutes and not really worth getting out of bed for.
As the years pass so quickly now, and I see more behind me than ahead, I wrestle this and scream to those behind me – to make your days, your heart, your treasures, your desires, pursuits, storehouse, reason to get out of bed more than such temporal pursuits, but to virtuous pursuits that reflect who created us, sustains us and to whom we will answer, and hopefully with whom we will spend eternity.
One other note – the the saints who might stumble across this:
I am disturbed by the trend I see in the church today. There is a divide that is not healthy, and trend that is no different than the trends of the past, but this one removes the fragrance of Christ further from us, eliminates or minimizes the transformation in who we are individually and collectively, and emaciates the impact we have to lure the world to Him, whom we claim to love.
On one hand, the church has become brittle, hateful almost, defending and fighting culture wars and spends itself condemning and attacking how lost people who do not know the Risen Lord, act like they don’t know the Risen Lord… The other, those who also claim to love this same Christ, who have disassociated themselves with sanctification, to use a big word…. In other words, there is an embrace of behaving like Christ in how we engage others, but not a reality check that to repent (turn & go a different direction from the err of one’s past life) does not involve stopping behavior, values, desires that are in violation of Kingdom codes. The former is stuck on personal sanctification, but misses behaving like it in dealing with the world in which we live. The latter, engages the world with grace, but denies the sanctification that calls for surrender of one’s own stomach, heart and therefore personal behaviors. It appears more pronounced today… sleeping with one to whom one is not married is “okay” if not lauded; indulgence in any number of substance abuses, social chique style pursuits not even recognized as little gods; indulgence in abuse of alcohol, tobacco, even drugs seen as the new “hip” in the world believer. There is no desire to be transformed, to be clean and before the Holy God in whose presence we could and should be consumed.
Woe to us – for we are so small. We too should be embarrassed and have a pursuit to a) live for something greater than us horizontally – that is – in how we engage others (individual and societal); and b) how we live getting to ever know, experience, and relate, understand and pursue the Christ – our vertical relating with the Living God.
For if we don’t, we should, as His church, not be surprised at the continued decline in our number, our impact, our appeal, our influence, our woo for the world to know Him… for we are as lost, clueless and meaningless as secular society, as trite, temporal and powerless and who would find that god attractive, for they have that now. We should be embarrassed, ashamed and repent to live for something much greater than ourselves.