FAITH MATTERS— on matters of faith as everyone believes in something!

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By Rev. Dr. Brian Gigee

“IDENTITY CRISIS: Work, Worship & Play!”

“ For we are all God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to engage in good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”   -Ephesians 2:9-10

While we are all asked to be home, to work from home or just stay home, our routines have been compromised by an invisible and deadly pest… and we have now some extra time on our hands to think about how life is, what’s most important and what is it that any of us really believes in… as… you know what’s next… faith matters! Here’s what I’m thinking…

Our culture has an identity crisis! And it’s not just for teenagers and middle-aged men! One of the greatest things that can happen to us is to discover and learn both “who” we are and “whose” we are and when we do…the journey of life seems to have a better directional flow than when we followed the whim of every voice that comes along. Can you hear the voices? 

One voice says, “work!” It’s the protestant thing to do … if you want others to know if you have any ethics at all… in fact, when we go to a party and have a drink in one hand and cross paths with a stranger, one of the first questions asked is… “what do you do?” I know I have had conversations like that… and as the old saying goes…”we ARE what we do…” and no matter what, most of us like to spout off about our work as it gives us a certain sense of identity and self-worth. I like what old Martin Luther said about work…”whatever it is that you do… you should choose work that contributes to the well-being of the community…” complimenting the Bible’s words that our work be done as if we were “doing it for the Lord himself!” as we all know God does not desire any of us to be a bank robber or a drug dealer.  Kindergartner’s never say they want to grow up to be that… The sad fact is, for many it is only their work which defines their lives… the identity they worship. 

 Another voice screams out to us, too… “play!” As in “play ball,” as in “play cards,” as in “play tennis,” as in “shop ’til you drop,” and as in “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”  That kind of play. It’s what we insist on doing with our “free time.” And God knows we like it!  But, when it comes to play, we’ve become very good at it… ball games, domed stadiums, 31 screen air-conditioned theaters, amusement parks, etc.  Kind of like ancient Rome where the biggest building left standing is the Coliseum, Rome’s ‘pleasure dome’… where they worked at play! 

 But there is another voice we must listen to…it is the still small voice within us that says, “we must take time for God.” The church calls this, “worship.” It’s the central thing we do and is the touch point for all the other parts of our lives at home, at the workplace and even at the mall… 

But, here’s my point… It seems that as a culture, we have learned to “worship our work.” And it seems to me that we also have perfected the ability to “work at our play.” And if this is so, then what is left for us to do is to… “play at our worship…” And there, then, is our identity crisis. Lives out of order, lives out of sync and when individual lives are not centered, the community takes on the nature of its people… as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us!” And Spring-breakers, too! 

But, let me also say this… if Jesus is our model of the Godly life, then we must learn from him…”take my yoke and learn from me,” Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And what we learn is this simple truth…Jesus is one who perfected the healthy balance of work, worship and play. We find out who we are as we become more like him and less like us.  Faith matters!

Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, the pastor at New Life Lutheran Church at 3521 E. Orange St. in Olde Towne Pearland.  Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/Friend2theRabbi  Your comments and/or questions can be sent to [email protected].

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