Posted by: Brian Musser | August 24, 2012

Taking Care of Other People’s Stuff

On Fridays I will regularly post about Work-Ship.  Work-Ship is my theological attempt to combine what we do as workers with what we do as worshipers.  I write on this topic primarily in hopes to better prepare Drexel students to incorporate their faith into their work but I have come to the conclusion that it is also needed for the larger Christian community.  You can find several of my other posts on this topic here on this site under the category of Work-Ship or more extensively at my other blog-site Work-Ship specifically designated for this topic.  This week we are continuing to expound on our idea that God works through maintaining His creation.  We are especially interested in seeing how God’s image as a sustainer can show through us as we go about the maintenance portions of our work.  My previous two posts on Work-Ship have investigated this idea as well.  

I don’t like kids.  It’s not so much that I don’t like them, it’s more that I’m frightened by them.  This is probably one of the reasons why I am a Campus minister.  Campus Ministry is a job where I seldom have to deal with kids.  Children don’t understand me and I have problems comprehending them.  It is a mutual distrust.  I try as much as I am able to avoid contact with them.  They transmit germs all the time.  I hope they don’t touch me.  I can sometimes handle a singular specimen of this category.  A lone child is manageable.  At moments of my heroic sacrifice I can have the strength to withstand being in the presence of two kids.  One is somewhat okay but when they turn plural, I get hives.  When the number of kids in the room hit double-digits, I start having unsolicited imaginations of being Gulliver trapped on the island of Lilliput.

I may be exaggerating my phobia slightly but I wanted to communicate that kids aren’t my thing.  However; I have a daughter.  Based on my self-described psychosis of children you would think it as impossible for me to have one.  If you know me personally you may also think that it would be unwise for society to trust me with one of my own.  Yet, with large amounts of help from my wife there is a seven year old kid in this world whom I not only casually know but I am responsible for basically 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  Poor kid.  It is a completely different thing when the child is mine.  So I may have to edit the above statement, “I don’t like kids.”  It’s not that I don’t like all kids.  It’s just that I don’t like your kids.  My kid is perfectly fine.

Last post (I Don’t Want To Be God’s Janitor) I confessed to not really enjoying the process of maintaining things.  As I was thinking this past week, I realized that statement was not completely true.  I don’t enjoy taking care of other people’s stuff.  I don’t care enough about other people’s things to exert the continuous effort to maintain them.  But if it is something I like or I own or that I am invested in then I am unwilling to take care of it.  If I think it is important I will take care of it.  If you think it is important that doesn’t really matter to me.  Unfortunately, I now know how important my health and my car actually are to me.  I may have to consider adjusting these priorities.

I have been teaching through the Sermon on the Mount on Monday nights at Drexel.

Matthew 6:25 -34

25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus connects God’s promised care for us directly to our worth in God’s eyes.  God takes care of the birds because they are His own creation.  God takes care of the grass because He made it.  God will sustain us because we are created by God in God’s own image.  God communicates our worth to Him through His provision for us.

The other day I found myself reverse engineering a set of $0.25 plastic handcuffs in hopes to restore their functionality.  In my eyes the handcuffs were worthless.  They may have been the cheapest toys I’ve ever seen.  But in my daughter’s eyes they were extremely valuable especially since she had purchased them with her own financial resources.  Because of the value of the handcuffs in my daughter’s eyes and the value of my daughter in my eyes, the handcuffs were fixed (at least for a second).  I became a momentary hero.

As we enter our occupations we will often be asked to maintain systems that mean nothing to us.  At times in my work-life I have been asked to maintain bathrooms used by preschoolers or college students (not sure which was worse), inventories for scientists, databases for ministries and lawns for customers.  Each of these objects meant very little to me.  On my best days, I was able to connect my effort at maintaining those things to the persons directly interested in them.  But that was only on my best days.  Every day God sustains his creation because of its worth to Him.  Every moment God sustains us because of our worth to Him.  At times when we are at our best the image of God may shine through us as we invest our energy, time and resources into maintaining things.  And as the image of God shines through us others may catch a glimpse of their worth in God’s eyes.

Let’s wrap this up with two pondering questions for discussion below.  How do our sustaining actions communicate the value we see in others?  How can our sustaining actions toward others communicate the image of a God who considers them valuable?

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