Thursday, May 18, 2006

Two Places at One Time

Yes, it's a new post! Finally. Taking on a new job has done strange things to my daily routine. I'm just not in front of the computer much right now. It probably has a little to do with warmer weather and a lawn which continually needs mowed. I've started a few posts, but I don't seem to get the time to finish them. It's a shame I can't blog and mow at the same time.

I actually sat down to watch some television last week. Anymore that's a rare occurrence and I probably shouldn't have made time for it, but that's water under the bridge now. My wife wanted to watch er. We used to watch that show faithfully, it's not much fun anymore. Ron, of Northern 'Burbs fame, suggested that the show had jumped the shark, but I think it's been steadily walking across the shark's back for a few years now.

Anyway, since I knew one of the er characters was going to die on that show, my morbid curiosity got the best of me. Well, it wasn't just that. It's just nice to sit on the couch with my wife for a while since we've only been communicating electronically during waking hours lately. It'll be nice when her job cuts back to part time again in a couple of weeks.

But I digress...

On that episode, amongst all the nonsense that has become a part of most prime time television, was one line that struck a familiar chord for me. The character who was killed was a doctor in Iraq. His wife had been given the news about his death and somewhere in the grieving process she offhandedly said something like, "I was probably watching Celebrity Poker on TV when he died." And I realized that I had pondered that same feeling before. Maybe it's natural for us to think about things like that. Like while something earth- shattering is happening somewhere else, I was doing something completely trivial. When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, I was eating a donut. Why should that matter? I don't think I could have prevented the plane from hitting by being more vigilant. Unless of course I would have had a couple of 44 caliber donuts pointed at the cockpit door. But that's just foolishness.

There is a feature I love on my Sirius satellite radio. Of the seventy or eighty music stations on the bird, you can only listen to one station at a time, but my receiver has a feature which allows me to store up to twenty songs in memory. Then when any of the music stations is getting ready to play that song but I'm listening to a different station, the radio will beep a warning and the display will tell me which of those songs in memory is going to be played. Then I just have to hit one button and the station is changed just in time to hear the song.

Let's say for some reason that one of my songs in memory is Copacabana by Barry Manilow. (The reason would have to be demonic possession, as I can't think of another possible reason to store that piece of music!) But if I'm listening to a Jimmy Buffet concert on the Jimmy Buffet station when Copacabana is played on the 70's station, I'll get a beeping warning in time to allow me to hit the magic button so that I can hear each golden note of the music and passion, which is always in fashion at the Copa. Granted, I'd miss that part of the Jimmy Buffet channel, but it's almost like being in two places at the same time.

A lot of times it's very tempting to try to live in two worlds at the same time. In a way we have to. We are called to be in the world, not of the world, as countless preachers have said. But we're supposed to stick out... to be different. It's a much easier road to be "one of the guys" at work -- making rude comments about co-workers or the boss, gossipping, telling and laughing at dirty jokes, using profanity and the like. But that's not what we're called to be.

As Christians, we're called to be possible targets for other people's humor. We are to be different. We're the ones who are actually supposed to love and care about the lady who wears too much make-up and the guy with the body odor problem. We're not supposed to be preaching, "You people are horrible!" to the assembly clustered around the water cooler, but we are to live by example. Instead, we often take the easy way out and do what we cannot do in real life -- try to live in both worlds.

The thing is, we really can't live in both worlds faithfully. It's like when I try to listen to two music channels at the same time. I cannot do it. The best I can do is to get snippets of each song, ending up with only a fraction of each. It's the same deal in the Christian walk. If we try to spend 9 to 5 in one world and 5 to 9 in the other, we're shortchanging Christ. He wants all of us, not just the parts when "the girls from work" are around. And we can't try to live as part of two worlds at one time.

If I had a dollar for each person I have met who tries to compartmentalize their Christian time and their secular time, I'd have enough cash that I wouldn't be getting up to go to work right now. But I've met enough. And many more.

"Lord, give me strength not to treat you as a part-time Savior and a part-time Lord."


Kim said...

I was wondering where you'd been!

I really liked this post.

John said...

That'll preach!

Jennifer said...

Good thoughts.

R. Stewart said...

ER's jumping it's 2nd shark, I think. I touched on this a little in my politics series, that we really can't separate what we believe in terms of religion/faith from other aspects of our lives. If we do, my guess is that our faith isn't really that strong. If our faith doesn't inform everything about our lives, it's of the lukewarm, useless variety. Jesus doesn't want to be Lord on Sundays between 10 and noon. He wants to be Lord 24/7/365 (and on leap years, 24/7/366.)