October 21, 2013

Smell Some Interest

“There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject, the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.” GK Chesterton

Chesterton makes this statement in his book Heretics, precursor to the more well-known Orthodoxy. I love reading Chesterton for the simple fact that he is incredibly engaging, both in his fiction and non-fiction writings. He says things in a way that forces you to think, to re-shift your paradigms. This statement is no exception.

No uninteresting subjects

Nothing in this world is truly uninteresting. There is something fascinating about any subject you might take up. There are, no doubt, things which you may or may not have a greater interest in as compared to others. However, that does not mean those things which you take less interest in are uninteresting. There is a reason that some people (like my friend Kilian: lkfaithwithreason.blogspot.com) study mathematics. There is a reason some people study science. There is a reason some people obsess over sports. There is a reason that some people live for art. These things may, to me, range somewhere between the painfully boring and the mildly interesting. But other people are gripped by them. Not because they are freaks, but because there is something in each of these subjects which they find compellingly attractive, enjoyable, and interesting.

This is Biblical

We read in Psalm 19:1-3 that,

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.”

Creation itself pours forth speech and every corner of the earth reveals knowledge concerning our God. You cannot look at anything and say “There is no sign of God here.” Even that which the Christian might describe as evil, wrong, or sinful will carry “pointers.” Satan cannot create out of nothing as God does, everything he does is a thievery, a copy, a shadow, or a misuse of what God has given and created. Which means there is always present a (distorted) picture of good.

Furthermore, to approach it from a slightly different angle, everything carries interest because everything is, in some manner, important. Jesus hints at this in Matthew 10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered.” God knows and cares about a bird that falls. He knows and cares how many hairs are on my head. There is not one tiny detail in all of creation that is unimportant to God. He rules over it all, displays his power in governing it all, and shows his love to and through it all.

Only uninterested persons

This is often me. I am often the uninterested person, missing the sound of birds singing, leaves shifting colors, or my baby smiling. This has always been a temptation for man, obviously Chesterton was familiar with it and he was writing over 100 years ago. But I believe the danger may be stronger today. We live in an extremely over stimulated and under observant culture. We miss life happening around us, but think we are “connected” because we are constantly in touch with Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, and Instagram. Cell phones seem to permanent appendages. Those things above which perhaps seemed compelling, interesting, and enjoyable are overshadowed by ever-present, ever-interesting, ever-fun technology. Folks often lament these things, but I think we miss one of the biggest dangers. The need for constant screen stimulation from phones, TVs, and computers develops in us an inability to take interest in things that don’t flash or shout for our attention. Our children only capture our focus upon the thousandth "mommy" or "daddy" or when the screaming hits a pitch we simply can’t ignore. Church loses our interest because to join in corporate singing (especially from a hymnal!) and then listen to someone preach for 30 or 40 minutes is more boredom than we can stand. We hate our jobs because we only think about how they interfere with what we really desire to pursue, like watching the game or catching up our Jersey Shore re-runs. We don’t have time for investing in real relationships because there are recipes to Pin and The Voice is only on once a week, you know.

How would your life change if you were to wake up and smell the proverbial roses…and maybe the literal ones, too? What if we focused intentional time with our kids so that they knew we cared? What if we went on a date with our spouse, and instead of relying on the fanciness of the restaurant or the flowers we bought to make her happy, we were to divert or interest away from the iPhone and into her eyes? What if we quit approaching a church service like something we attend to suffer through and more like the gathering of the people of God to hear his holy word? What if we pursued excellence in our work and, to steal a line from Jon Acuff, fell in like with a job we may not love? What if we started being interested in life? I think if even 5 percent of us made that change, in a slow but steady fashion, the world would flip upside down. Marriages, churches, families, workplaces, all of life would be affected. So wake up. Smell the roses.

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About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).