That old song
It’s stuck in my mind. You know, it’s that old song that Julie Andrews sang as Mary Poppins, Just a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down. While it’s a very cute song that you also probably have stuck in your mind now, the idea of the song is very true. When facing a difficult task, if we can find some form of delight associated with it, the job becomes vastly easier to accomplish. And a job accomplished gives us, at the very least, the satisfaction of mind.
Some things about life just stink
I have never had a job that I loved every aspect of it. I had one job that I was indifferent to because it was just an okay job. I had one job that I liked; one job that I really needed to quit – and did quit; one job (farming) that I loved, and this job as a minister that I love also. But I have never had a job that I loved every aspect of it. Some people, however, have become quite successful at jobs even though they hated them.
Did you know that tennis superstar, Andre Agassi, didn’t like tennis? Because of tennis, he is worth $175 million, and yet he says he never really like the sport. He dominated not only the world of tennis from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, but he also dominated the world of sports, being considered one of the best sports stars of that era – and he never really liked tennis.
Another famous tennis player who currently plays the game is Serena Williams. She has been ranked number 1 in the world seven times over the past fifteen years, but she says she would rather shop and sit around rather than work out. She is a superstar but does not enjoy what it takes to be number one in the world.
But it's not just sports stars that dislike their jobs. Sean Connery has stated he would like to kill his movie portrayal of James Bond. The late Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame said, “George Lucas ruined my life. And I mean that in the nicest way”. Fisher says she hated her stardom of Star Wars because it turned her into a sex symbol.
We could name many, many more famous people who hate what made them rich and famous or who hate some portion of their career and the resulting effect. It seems that there is no perfect job or career out there.
How about Jesus’ job?
If there is no perfect earthly job, how about Jesus’ task of coming to earth? How would you enjoy a career of having the power to heal? Walking on water? Calming storms? Walking right through a mob that wanted to kill you? Being attended by angels? Or even having the ability to call legions of angels who would respond instantly? While all these things about Jesus' life sound intriguing, we have to remember a few other aspects of His life.
The task of being the Messiah was rough. When we read about Jesus’ ministry, finding time alone from the crowds seemed almost impossible. Jesus often began His day early in the morning before anyone else woke up to find time to talk with His heavenly Father. When you examine the four Gospels, Jesus was a very, very busy man as people wanted to hear Him teach and heal their sick. While the crowds loved Him, many people in authority hated Him, and remember, those in authority had Him crucified.
So can you imagine what Jesus must have experienced when He stood prepared to enter Jerusalem in His triumphant entry on Palm Sunday? While the crowds cheered Him, Jesus knew He was going to His death toward the end of the week. And once in Jerusalem, Jesus intentionally kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest by pushing back at the Jewish religious leaders in that final week on earth. It was all part of His Father’s plan. Jesus had to die.
No, Jesus didn’t have the best job in the world either. Actually, Jesus had the worst job of anyone on earth, but He did it anyway. Somehow, Jesus found the sugar that helped the medicine go down.
If the Christian life were a job
What would our Christian life look like if it were considered a job? I'm not saying that Christianity is a job, plus we need to remember that our works do not save us. We are, however, graded by our works (Mt. 25:31-46). Our works do count (James 2:14-26). With that said, can we all agree that we dislike some aspects of living our Christian faith? Can we all agree that Jesus tells us to do some things that we just do not want to do?
Unless you are a new Christian without a Church background, you likely know how to live the Christian life. I don’t mean an Americanized Christian life, but a biblical Christian life. So, if Jesus were our employer and we were His employees, would we get a raise? Probably not. A better question is this one. Would we even stay employed? Uh, possibly not. Let’s face it. It’s hard to live up to the standards that Jesus set by His example while on earth.
Grace vs. doing
Without going deep, let’s reassure ourselves that we are saved by the Grace of God. None of us deserve to live eternally with Jesus in heaven. God accepts us into His Kingdom because of grace. At the same time, we cannot neglect our actions. While God saves us by His grace, our actions play a vital role in eternal salvation: actions either in doing God’s will or actions of neglecting God’s will.
While our earthly employers have requirements for us to earn our wages, Jesus has requirements for us also. The problem comes when we have more fear of our earthly employers’ reprimands for disobedience than we have for the eventual reprimands of God. Let’s ponder that statement. Read the next sentence slowly. The problem comes when we have more fear of our employers’ reprimands for disobedience than we have for the eventual reprimands of God.
With God, our reward or punishment is usually delayed; sometimes even until after we have passed from this life to the next. Therefore, the requirements of God that we dislike, we often neglect. Why? Because since we don't like them, we ignore them. It's easier to avoid doing them than to obey God. Obedience is harder than avoidance. That is why we need to find our spoonful of sugar.
What is your spoonful of sugar?
So what part of your Christian life do you hate? Yes, I used the word, “hate.” Do you hate to tell others about Jesus? Do you hate being the goody-goody person, so you use profanity? (Okay, you just swear a little, but a little profanity is still sin.) Do you hate helping your neighbor? (Hey, we know you're too busy to help someone else.) Do you hate attending church weekly? (We certainly know you have no other time to do all those necessary errands and fun things than on Sunday mornings.)
We’ve made up all kinds of excuses to avoid doing what God tells us to do, so may I suggest you and I find our spoonfuls of sugar that will help the medicine go down? We know what we need to do to please Jesus, but we often put it off. We procrastinate. We delay. And many times, we just refuse to do that task that pleases Him. It requires change in our lives and we know how we hate change.
What is your spoonful of sugar that you need to get the job done for Jesus? Let’s each find it. Every task has something sweet about it, but maybe you still refuse to use your spoonful of sugar. If that is your situation, you might just need to buckle down and do that much-hated task.
So, right now, yes now, take some time to write down all those things you know you need to change for Jesus. Write down the needed personal changes in your life and write down your negative attitudes that you need to address concerning church and what happens with our church community here at RCC that will move us forward in both spiritual growth and numerical growth. Write all of them down. Find your spoonful of sugar. Take your spoonful of sugar and swallow. Now, let’s get busy for Jesus