Recently [EDIT: It was when I started writing this, now it’s over a month ago] I was pointed to this blog about excitement in church, and it really is quite a good read. It talks about managing expectations and what we should be searching for. I found it thought provoking and while this post was definitely provoked by that, it’s not written as a response.
The take-home message for me from the article was that we should come to church expectant and hoping for one thing from God each time. We may have to fight to hold on to that approach, as we sometimes have to search hard for that one thing, but it’s worth it.
It was the idea of focus and passion that stuck me. What I came up with a model for how we seek pleasure, or more accurately two.
The first approach is that of the bumblebee. The person flits from one thing to another, not staying long at any single flower but instead enjoys the whole garden. Each bloom is seen as a fuelling station and the journey from plant to plant allows an adventure to begin.
The second is that of the prospector. He decides to take interest in an idea and then searches there for something to love. If he picks the wrong location, his search will be fruitless but if he finds the right place he’ll have untold riches. So he makes his choice and there he stays, sometimes for years, digging for more and more.
Now this model has flaws and limitations, as do all. Perhaps model is the wrong word, it’s more like a scale and we all fit somewhere between the two. Whichever works for you, I think it gives some quite useful insights.
- The quantity of fruit versus the value of the fruit.
The prospector has to wait until his choice yields results. When it does, if it does, the amount is tiny compared to his body size but it is very precious. The bumblebee gets a lot of nectar, and all for very little personal cost or risk.
- The nature of the fruit.
The bumblebee gets nectar to feed itself but the prospector cannot eat what he finds. He has to give it away, to someone else who does need it and in this giving his needs are met.
- The risk
While the bumblebee is living easy, the prospector has all his eggs in one basket. One is an all inclusive package, the other is an all encompassing lifestyle.
- The two different approaches to life they both have.
I imagine the bumblebee as a happy animal, flying carefree through the world. It sees the world as bright, full of colour and opportunity. I don’t see the bumblebee as a creature that thinks of others and if it does, I imagine it would believe it couldn’t make a difference.
The person who is like a bumblebee will be exciting to be around, as they have lots to say and a varied amount of things to talk about. They don’t know any of them in depth though and rarely offer an insight that can change your world.
The old fashioned gold digger though I see very differently. The stereotype is an old man with a toothless grin and worn out clothes, who probably lives alone. Whether that’s true or not, they work hard at their physical labour and some days get little thanks. I imagine they would not see life as quite a joyous free-for all as the bumblebee does, but neither is he miserable. If he were, he’d give up, but to keep going he sees some far off reward.
Those whose passion is like the prospector will only have one topic of conversation they want to be involved in. Any other themes that are being talked about, they find a way to work it back to their passion. For those who have the same interest, this person is a leader, but others perceive him as a bore. The bees see him as blinkered, as a kook who’s missing out on what life has to offer.
This is sort of a thought experiment really, but the more I ponder it (which I have been doing for months, sorry it took so long to get my thoughts together) the more I feel that as Christians we are called to be prospectors, digging for revelations of God. He’s asking us to stop choosing to run our own lives and give it all up for Him.
This analogy can also be used for how we seek wisdom and knowledge of value. In this, I think the Bible is very clear that the approach of the bumblebee (which I believe is a natural instinctive one the flesh wants to follow) is wrong.
Proverbs 2:2-5 (NASB)
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
I’ve just come out of a season where as a small group we have been focusing on becoming more passionate about God. We listened to a song where the rapper said he was more excited about Genesis 1 than the next Hollywood release. I want to feel that too, and although I’ve changed, I’m not a single minded dedicated follower of Jesus. My interest in cinema has lessened, certainly for the blockbusters, but the more low key ones I still get excited about. Argo looks fun, I wanted to see Looper and Coriolanus is definitely on my Christmas list.
There are others though that I’m only interested in because of how they relate to Christ. Noah is going to be a massive event picture, as it has an A-list character and award winning director so I’m looking forward to that. I’m also keen to promote and see Twelve Years a Slave, which could be used for raising awareness of modern slavery, something we as Christians should be fixing.
One of the major failures with this model though is that Jesus is a person, so to pursue Him doesn’t quite look the same as digging for gold. If I go to these films, I could be doing it for Him, but also be interested in them being good films.
To extend the model then, we need to understand what following God looks like, and that is why studying Jesus’ small time on earth is so vital, as He managed that perfectly. One of the things I know is that we have to develop the heart of God. This means changing our desires, our passions to be His; to cry over what he mourns, to rejoice in what He sees as worthy of praise.
In conclusion then, I think we should make God our focus, and in doing so, become focused on other things too. On that logical tongue twister, I think I’ll leave you to your thoughts. I know I’ve just sprayed mine at you but I hope it helps you to come up with new ones of your own. Hopefully, you’ll then act on them and not just leave it as a mind game 🙂