Michael Jackson died recently (in case you’d been on a deserted island for the last week) and his news overtook the frontpage headlines for about a week. Coincidentally, thats about the same time that news about Iran faded from the American consciousness for the most part. One of the most ancient cultures in the world was facing a monumental struggle towards more open democracy which could radically change the future of the middle east and world and potentially affect the peace or cause death for thousands of people– but that was overtaken by our insatiable interest in pop culture news.
Nietzsche said that “To forget one’s purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.” I find this very true in my life on a regular basis as I try to evaluate why I waste my time on various silly escapes. Youtube, facebook and all the various movies we have at our house can steal my time. There is so much that seems more useful for me to be doing.
But this very pragmatic approach is not necessarily the right answer either, I guess. This week we read about Ezekiel’s calling to go speak to the Israelites. God makes it clear that Ezekiel will probably fail, but that that is what God wants of him. We read that along side the passage from Mark where Jesus went to his hometown and found that people there had very little faith in Him. In both cases there was little fruit from the work. But Jesus went to his hometown out of love, and God sent Ezekiel to his people because God’s faithfulness comes even in the face of faithlessness and fruitlessness. This sticking to one’s calling despite no apparent fruit reminded me also of Noah, who worked for over 125 years before his boat building seemed like a good idea. He was faithful.
This reminds me of a time in Milwaukee. I used to go with a friend of mine occassionally to a Milkite Catholic church where the priest did a pretty involved and elaborate liturgical service each morning. Often there were 5 of us there with the priest, and I once asked my friend if the priest went on and did the service if no one showed up. “Of course!” he said, “The priest will do this service come hell or highwater!– he’s not here for us, he is here to worship God on behalf of this church– for those who are here in body and those who are not here. That is his work!” That comment has always stuck with me, especially on days that I wonder if my work is paying off, when its hard to see fruit. The nice thing I guess about submitting to God is that you don’t have to BE God– you just serve and let Him worry about outcomes.
So this is encouraging to me. I need to maintain my focus, like Nietzsche, Ezekiel and Jesus, and do what I’m called to do. Whatever that is, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t usually involve Michael Jackson (except when we play Michael at the next dance party…)