Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chapstick and legalism

Oh man. I forgot about Chapstick and I want some of its waxy comfort in the worst way. It is not anywhere on my list of clothing and outward appearance items for the month. Actually, I didn't totally forget, I just thought, "Oh, lotion will work as a substitute. Chapstick can't be lotion, but lotion can moisturize my lips. So lotion lets me kill two birds with one stone." But, here I am, winging my way halfway across the country on an airplane, with my ziploc bag of liquids and gels unreachable, convinced that the only thing that can cure my dry lips is Chapstick.

Which got me thinking about my options. Which got me thinking about rules. Which got me thinking about what grounds I have to add or substitute from my list of "sanctioned" items for the month. Which ultimately got me thinking about legalisms versus commitment. It is not the end of the world if I buy myself a tube of lip balm and slather it on my lips, I get that. And I'm sure that most people reading could really give a rip if I use Chapstick or not. But I care.

If I indulge my personal desire to lube up my lips, it had better be for the right reason. And if I don't, it had also better be for the right reason. I prayed and was led to Luke chapter 9. I got my answer. Turns out the answer hinges on the question of all in commitment and a willingness to follow Jesus without over preparing, or second guessing. It is not a question of following rules, in my case somewhat arbitrary rules, for rules' sake. It is a question of trusting in Christ's provision, not my preparation.

When Jesus sent the twelve out to proclaim the kingdom of God He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt." (vs. 3) He was not specific on the Chapstick question, but you get the point. He further emphasized that His disciples were not to go back home and have everything in order before embarking on their kingdom work. Jesus said: “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (vs. 62). I other words, if I am committed to this FFE work and my hand is on the plow, I need to look forward, not in the rear view mirror to spot a tube of Chapstick for my bag.

In the midst of this chapter is also the story of feeding the 5,000. Woefully underprepared to feed 5,000 men (plus women and children), they rustled up 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. Jesus, who is always enough, fed the whole crowd, with baskets of scraps left over.

So, tonight as I lay down to sleep, me and my chapped lips are glad we have enough lotion to see us through the month.

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