A guy who has hung around on the outskirts of our missional community sent a message asking for gas money this week. He said he missed us, but he has been going to another local church. My gut reaction was to think, “ Well, go ask one of them for gas money!” I also felt this way when a single mom asked me to babysit her kids. I wondered why she didn’t ask one of the people from the megachurch she chooses to attend because it has such wonderful children’s programs. And, unfortunately, these aren’t the only times I have reacted to a request for help with such bitterness.
Obviously, I am a little jaded.
And, I’m not just jaded when people who choose to attend other churches ask me for help. I am jaded when I do something and don’t get something in return. This especially affects my relationship with God. I think, I gave up my career and furthering my education to raise and disciple my children. Don’t I deserve good, godly kids. I have humbly asked you to show me what you want me to do in this season of my life. Don’t I deserve an answer. I am choosing to serve the least of these instead of trying to make a name for myself among the powerful and prestigious. Don’t I deserve to see some of them come to know Jesus.
What is Jaded
I associate being jaded with being cynical or disillusioned, but neither is mentioned in the definition of the word. One of the meanings of jaded is actually more akin to overindulgence, and that doesn’t make sense. No one’s going to call me indulgent. I am the person who puts limits on everything–sugar intake, device time, spending money, and so on–much to the annoyance of my family. Yet, another meaning of the word is “worn out and weary” due to “overwork or overuse.” And, oh, buddy, that hits home. It’s convicting because it reveals I may be overindulging in working for Jesus without resting in Jesus. I am working to earn something, not because I’ve already received something. And, this thinking shows I’m butchering the gospel.
Fight Being Jaded with the Gospel
1) Creation: God, who both worked and rested, created Adam and Eve in His image and called them to have dominion over the earth, and because they lived in perfect communion with God, having yet to taste evil or death, they worked and saw the fruit of their labors. All was good.
And, we too were made with a holy longing to see the fruit of our labors.
2) Fall: Adam and Eve sinned, and as a result, the ground was cursed, their work was marred by “thorns and thistles,” and death was imminent (Gen. 3:17-19). Therefore, work became fatigued with futility.
And, we too become fatigued with the futility of our work. Unfortunately, this fatigue touches more than the work we do in our homes, our gardens, and our workplaces; it touches the good works we do in Jesus’ name for the sake of His kingdom. Like the whiskey priest before his execution in Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, we are tempted to believe, “I have done nothing for anybody. I might just as well have never lived.”
3) Redemption: Yet, Jesus “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” and made us “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5,7), and by drawing us to Himself, He draws us into His completed work, into His rest. Hebrews 4:10 promises, “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”
And, in light of this good news, we too must give up hope in being justified by our good works, trust in His mercy, and find rest for our souls by learning from Jesus (Matthew 11:29). Nathan Partain’s lyrics in “A Son of God” sum it up so well: “I am last and low, because I fight no longer / To be right or good, or to prove my own worth / I’m not driven or pushed or weighed down with duty / I am filled with release that Christ did all for me.” We can accept that He redeems empty-handed sinners like us.
4) Restoration: The work of Jesus is sufficient, but that does not mean our works are unnecessary. It simply means our being precedes our doing. Because Titus 3:5-7 is true, we am called to be careful to devote ourselves to good works (Titus 3:8). This requires we believe: 1) He will “equip [us] with everything good that [we] may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” (Hebrews 13:21), 2) He “is able to make all grace abound to [us], so that…[we] may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8), 3) He prepared these good works beforehand (Eph. 2:10), and 4) we have a better and abiding possession (Heb. 10:34).
Living in light of this good news, I can serve others without growing weary and worn out when it seems my work is futile, trusting my reward will be great in heaven. I can put off being jaded and be clothed with “garments of salvation,” like a bride adorned with jewels (Is. 61:10).
How might you need to rest in the reality that our being precedes our doing?
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