Repeat after me: I am not average. I am a beautiful, unique snowflake. I am a world-changer. I am a dreamer, a fighter, a kick butt and take names kind of person. I am a firework (see Katy Perry). I am the captain of my soul. Oh captain, my captain, I will “carpe diem” (see Dead Poets Society). I will pursue my dreams and chart my destiny. I am not average I am awesome.
This is the mantra and motto and manifesto of my generation. We are the bucket list generation. The “be all that you can be” generation. The “you can be anything you want when you grow up” generation. Our worst nightmare is failing to live up to our potential and failing to fulfill our dreams.
We Christians aren’t immune to the awesome, dreamer, lover, world-changer talk either. Every year thousands of books and blogs and articles and tweets tell us we are supposed to do great, incredible, amazing, earth-shaking things for God. Exactly 23 minutes ago Joel Osteen posted the following on Twitter:
You have something to offer this world that nobody else does! You have incredible talents and gifts to share with others.
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) November 21, 2013
Now don’t get me wrong: I really do believe every Christian is supposed to live their life 100%, pedal-to-the-medal for Jesus. I believe God wants us to do great things for him. I firmly believe that the Christian life is a fantastic, wonderful adventure. I believe we are created in the image of God which makes us all inherently valuable.
But here’s the thing: the things that impress the world don’t impress God. In fact, for the most part, the things that impress God look distinctly average.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 Paul says: “For this is the will of God…”
Okay here it is! Tell me Paul, tell me. What is God’s will for me? What awesome, incredible, world-shaking things does God want me to do? I’m ready. I’m psyched, pumped, and rearing to go.
This is the will of God:
…your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
Wait, that’s it? God’s will for me is purity? I mean, I guess that’s cool and all but it isn’t exactly world shaking. I was hoping for something a little more… awesome.
Let’s try another passage. Maybe we were just looking in the wrong place. In Matthew 25:34 Jesus speaks of the day when all of us will stand before the judgment throne. The Lord will say: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Okay, now we’re getting to the good stuff! We’re talking about eternity here. Jesus is about to tell us who will get all the rewards in heaven. Who is it going to be?
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Well, crap. That wasn’t what I was hoping for. I was hoping for something a little more exciting, edgy, and awesome. Feeding the sick and blessing the poor and visiting the imprisoned don’t really classify as awesome. I don’t have any of those things listed on my bucket list.
Maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Maybe instead of pursuing awesome we should pursue average. The things that are average in the eyes of the world are magnificent in God’s eyes. The things that are boring in the eyes of world are breathtaking in God’s eyes.
God isn’t impressed by those who fulfill their dreams, he is impressed by those who faithfully obey. God isn’t impressed by those who claw their way to the top, he is impressed by those who fight their way to the bottom. God isn’t impressed by dreamers, he is impressed by servants.
On the final day God won’t say, “Well done awesome and killer person, you fulfilled your dreams.” He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Let’s dream big for God. But we must always make sure our dreams really do line up with God’s dreams. Let’s have a biblical bucket list.
*This article was originally written/published by the author under the title “The Things That Should Really Be On Our Bucket List.”