Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Pastor's Perspective - Complaining About Complaining
An elderly man went to the doctor for a visit. "Doc," he said," I have chest pains, headaches, back pains, nausea, arthritis, constipation, earaches, burning in the eyes, congested lungs..." "Sir," says the doctor, "you complain you have so many things. What don't you have?" The man answered, "Teeth."
It’s alarming to me as a local pastor of how much complaining I see and hear around me – especially among those professing an abiding faith in Almighty God.
Over a year and a half ago, my wife Michelle drug me kicking and screaming into the whole Facebook craze. Though obstinate at first, I have found it to be a great tool of daily connection with my church family, and a priceless reconnection vehicle with chums from the past. However, as I scan it daily for the latest status updates, I read so much negativity. Now as a fellow planetary inhabitant, I’m keenly aware that not everyday is a ‘happy clappy everything’s coming up roses day’! I get that. Recession, sickness, heartache, and such are part of the human condition; however, it’s the chronically-critical that make me stop and wonder. Even the Bible’s poster boy for suffering, Job, said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Speaking from a Christian worldview, I think at the epicenter of Eyore-thinking are four easily-identified variables.
To much ME, and not enough GOD. In other words, as long as I strive to sit on the universe’s throne, I will always look at the world through ‘me-colored’ lenses.
Too much NOW, and not enough THEN. When we fail to have an eternal perspective on our lives, we step on the bear trap of instant gratification.
Too much IDLENESS, and not enough SERVING. I have never seen excessive idleness transform into anything positive - never. However, it’s those who are busy humbly serving others around them that find little-to-no-time to grumble.
Too much ENTITLEMNT, and not enough GRATITUDE. Lack of thankfulness in our day-to-day will always lead to a toxic ‘I deserve this’ mindset. That kind of thinking is the labor room of the critical. It’s only when we intentionally recognize and humbly embrace God’s unmerited grace that we experience authentic contentment within every scenario of life.
If anyone had a reason to complain it was the Apostle Paul. His allegiance to follow Christ had placed him smack-dab in the middle of some of the worst circumstances and persecution imaginable. While writing from a filthy dark prison cell, he wrote a letter filled with the most unlikely ingredient – joy – to the believers in ancient Philippi. ‘Do everything without complaining or arguing.’ (Phil. 2:14).
Huh?! ‘Hey Paul! Wake up! Look around you man. Look where you are! You don’t deserve this. You’re an intellectual super star with the highest education. You’re a ‘somebody’. You have credentials few possess. This is unfair. Scream! Rant! At a minimum, write God a scathing complaint letter. Attica! Attica!’ Yet, Paul never complained. Instead he wrote that God’s grace was sufficient for him; that where sin showed up, God’s grace trumped; that in his puniness, his God was crazy strong.
Paul never complained. Chicken Little did not write two-thirds of our New Testament.
Because to him life was about God, not himself.
Because he knew that his greatest contentment would come someday, not now.
Because he was too busy rolling-up his sleeves and stooping to serve others to be marked by valueless negativity.
Because he lived hourly with a glorious attitude of gratitude, that kept him faraway from the throne reserved exclusively for his heavenly Father.
Friends, we would be wise as modern-day followers of Christ in Solano County to do likewise. Let’s be marked by joyful perseverance and hope in the God who refuses to fail us. Let’s trust more and complain less.
Remember! Jesus can turn water into wine; but He can’t turn your whine into anything.