Category Archives: all of life is worship

The bravery of faithfulness

I think the lady in this quote puts her finger on something very important.

“I’m a thirty-something with two kids living a more or less ordinary life. And what I’m slowly realising is that, for me, being in the house all day with a baby and a two-year old is a lot more scary and a lot harder than being in a war-torn African village. What I need courage for is the ordinary, the daily every-dayness of life. Caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home. Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on the average Wednesday morning or calling my mother back when I don’t feel like it…

…I’ve come to the point where I’m not sure anymore just what God counts as radical. And I suspect that for me, getting up and doing the dishes when I’m short on sleep and patience is far more costly and necessitates more of a revolution in my heart than some of the more outwardly risky ways I’ve lived in the past. And so this is what I need now: the courage to face an ordinary day – an afternoon with a colicky baby where I’m probably going to snap at my two-year old and get annoyed with my noisy neighbour – without despair, the bravery it takes to believe that a small life is still a meaningful life, and the grace to know that even when I’ve done nothing that is powerful or bold or even interesting that the Lord notices me… and that that is enough” (quoted in Ordinary, by Michael Horton, p.15 & 20)

I know we’re not all mothers, but we all have large parts of our day which are very ordinary, and it’s in our handling of those large chunks, day in, day out, that the battle for godliness is fought. “The fruit of the Spirit is… faithfulness” (Gal 5:22).

What’s the opposite of holy?

Q. What’s the opposite of light?

A. Darkness.

Q. What’s the opposite of male?

A. Female.

Q. What’s the opposite of Jew?

A. Gentile.

Q. What’s the opposite of holy?

A….

Go on. What do you say?

I expect the answer most of us instinctively give is “sinful”. That’s not a bad answer, but if that’s all we think, we’ll probably get ourselves into trouble. For example, that answer runs into trouble with the Sabbath. When God says: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8), God isn’t saying your Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are sinful. Or when Paul calls them the “holy Scriptures” (2 Tim 3:15) he’s not saying all the other literature on your bookshelves is sinful. In both these uses of the word “holy”, the opposite isn’t “sin”, but “common”. The “holy” is something which has a special connection to God, in a way that the common doesn’t. The common is still good. We can still glorify God in the common things, but the holy things are sacred; they have a special quality, and a special status. The Sabbath day is holy time. The Bible is holy text.

Leviticus 10:10 told the priests: “You are to distinguish between the holy and the common”.

But this is a distinction which many Christians today have trouble with and could do with re-learning. We can think the “holy” is just an old covenant idea that has been cancelled by Christ. But this distinction pre-dates sin. In man’s innocence, there was a difference between the Sabbath and other days of the week, between the Garden of Eden and the rest of the earth, between the two trees in the midst of the Garden and all the other trees.  In God’s world, some things are common and other things are holy. Not everything is the same. So, it’s right when we come to church to realise something holy is going on. We should treat it differently to everything else in our week. We shouldn’t treat “the table of the Lord” (1 Cor 10:21) in the same way as our table (1 Cor 11:34). But that doesn’t mean our taxi-driving, or our cleaning, or parenting, or music-making are not areas of service to God. Realising that the opposite of holy isn’t sin, but the common, will help us glorify God in both areas of our lives, without confusing them.