1st World Problems, and Those Little Choices…
“I have more clothes than closet space!” – “My laptop is dying…and the charger is all the way upstairs!” – “This page is taking way too long to load!”
As trivial as those things sound, these moments of frustration reveal the state of the human heart. They reveal the inner depravity of the human heart and my own struggle to meditate on the deeper things: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Ps 27:14), “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). We live in very interesting times, when the majority of Americans have lived life with such prosperity, and are so far removed from the threat of wars and destruction, that we are ill-prepared to fight for what is worth fighting for! We construct our own crisis and get our dopamine hits by throwing verbal barbs at those on the other side of a screen that we will likely never meet.
One sociologist who specializes in social media interactions wrote a piece in which she was appalled at the level of vitriol directed on Disney between those who disagree vehemently on Marvel comics heroes! (No I don’t spend my time reading that stuff…) The battles over removing “God” from the classroom and abortion have changed to vaccines, masks, and animal products.
I wish to submit to you that our “1st world problems” are connected to 3rd world problems; there is a personal trajectory that leads down a slippery slope, and it is only a matter of time and small leaks before the dike bursts and floods our community. It begins in the subtle choice made in the quiet waking hours to turn to prayer, praise, and the word of God over the incitements on the iPhone. It’s demonstrated in the choice to wait patiently in the line of cars, (without grumbling or leaving or flipping radio stations every few seconds) as we seek to model to our children the meaning of manners. It’s found in the choice of finishing a conversation and not signaling that an incoming call takes precedence over them. Victories are won in the moment of freeing one’s busy schedule to play a family board game!
Little things lead to big things. The more I buy, the more time I must spend to manage what I own. Adopting a new, convenient technology always sacrifices something, even if it only means spending less time noticing my neighbor sitting on the front porch, and having a conversation with him/her. Little things, like moving from 0-1-2 screens to manage at the same time. It’s not “multi-tasking”, it’s more often than not a choice to live a distracted life! (as I start and stop this blog to answer calls…) There’s a connection between the hard-work ethic exhibited by my parents/grandparents’ generation that are directed towards, and the prosperity we have been blessed to receive by God’s Grace. Likewise, there’s a connection between a mentality that is content to receive government handouts, and the empty shelves we see at the store!
I must affirm that Paul’s drive for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and his willingness to led to go as far as beatings and imprisonment to plant churches across Asia Minor and Southern Europe led to the world hearing of His Great Name! 2 Timothy 2:10 “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” Why, Paul? What’s in it for you?? “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:23) "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." (Luke 18:29-30)
Those mighty things begin with a single choice…something to commit to this day, and extend to a week. I choose to prioritize the essence of Thanksgiving over the contemporary cultural expression of Halloween.
I choose to meet physically with the People of God (Heb 10:25), and prioritize the gathering as a church, not just for my sake, but for others, and God’s Glory, because I recognize that the little things, like that hug/touch of encouragement may mean the difference of someone staying faithful, or falling away.
Choosing to kneel down in front of a child at AWANA, looking him in the eye, and saying, “I’m so glad you came today! Come and sit next to me!”, may be the tipping point that God uses to bring in eternal life! “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42)
Make that little choice of obedience, see where it leads, and those 1st world problems will be put in proper perspective!