The Doctor Says You Should Be Dead by Now. You…Don’t Even Have a Life Verse.

February 18, 2009

Where two or three are gathered in his name, everyone will try to look like the best Christian in the room.

Making small talk has a purpose: to get to know someone, either as a friend, or maybe on a date. You might ask about families, jobs, hobbies, whatever comes to mind. But Christians seem to have an entirely different set of questions. Suddenly, small talk is no longer about shooting the breeze or having a casual conversation, but cutting the heart of life’s questions. It’s almost like Christians like to challenge one another for their own pride.

“You have insulted my integrity! I challenge you to a duel.”

I’ve never been good at small talk. And I’m even worse when someone fires these questions at me. I’ve compiled three questions everyone needs to be able to answer when engaging in Christian small talk.

Three Questions You Have to Be Ready to Answer

What is your calling?
When people ask this question, what they mean is that God must have a ‘grand and glorious plan’ for your life. This question is very similar to ‘Where is God calling you?’ It’s obvious they don’t think you are following your true calling, because if you were, you would be somewhere else. Only if you are super-successful do people not ask you what your calling is. No one asks Joel Osteen what his calling is. Isn’t it obvious? How could he be so successful at what he does unless it was his calling?

Funny thing is, I’ve been asked this even by new acquaintances – right after I tell them I pastor a church. Just to be clear – there is absolutely no reason on this earth that makes being a (real) pastor a worthwhile career, unless you feel you are called to do so. I love my people, but the work and the emotional output it takes is only sustained by a calling/curse from God.

What if I answered that I felt my calling was that of Isaiah? That I was to preach until God destroyed everything and killed everyone? That might end the conversation rather quickly.

The older I get, the more thankful I am for other peoples’ callings. There are so many people who do the work I cannot do. And they aren’t the type of jobs that people care about if you’re called to do or not. In fact, we don’t even talk about ‘being called’ when we talk about all the ‘regular,’ non-ministry work that keeps the world running.

What is God doing in your life?
I never know what to say to this question. People who ask this assume that God is running all over the place 24/7 ‘doing’ things for me. Sure, you get a room full of fifty people, and two or three are bound to have an answer, but for one guy – that’s pretty intimidating.

One guy, a preacher type, always has a lot to report. It’s always something like, “Last Sunday, I was preaching, and I saw Satan fall from the sky like lightning. And then the sky opened on me and a voice came from heaven and said, ‘this is my Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

And everyone else whispers ‘Amen,’ like we’re not jealous. “God sure is spending an awful lot of time at that church! Looks like someone in our congregation isn’t tithing enough…Judith.”

What if I said, ‘nothing?’ That’s what I’m thinking most of the time. Sounds like I’m not much of a Christian, or I’m making God look bad. Just make something up, for crying out loud!

But really, what has God done for me lately?

He didn’t crash a firey meteor into me from outer space, vaporizing me in a vast radioactive crater, which on most days I probably deserve. That’s nothing.

My marriage stayed in tact. In a way, nothing has happened there.

My body didn’t get sick. Again, nothing.

My car didn’t blow up. Nothing.

No one I know died. Nothing.

Nothing has happened! Everything stayed just as good as yesterday!

Looks like nothing is actually something. Suddenly, being Steady Eddy with nothing to report sounds pretty good! Based on the attention God gave people in the Bible – sending plagues, raining fire, turning them into salt, turning them leprous, etc, I’m okay with ‘nothing’ most days. I don’t need that kind of attention from God.

What’s your “life verse?”
While other people are pulling out pictures of their kids or some fish they caught, Christians love to compare ‘life verses.’ If they’re two single people, it’s almost like their hitting on each other with really bad pick-up lines.

The first time I was asked this, I didn’t know what to say. It was our first week back at a Christian college and our resident assistant wanted to display our life verses on our door. Since I was undisciplined at scripture memorization, nothing came to mind. So I sneakily copied the Bible reference my roommate had jotted down. “Romans 12:2,” sounded good enough.

The next day, we had our life verses taped to our door. Our door read:

“Do not copy the behavior of this world…”

“Do not copy the behavior of this world…”

Hmmm…probably best if I actually picked out a real life verse, just to save face next time. It was still better than the guy who wrote down a Max Lucado verse though. So I tried to find the verse about God having a grand and glorious plan for my life, but I must have had the wrong translation. I also tried to find that verse about the footprints, but no go. So the next time someone started getting up in my grill over a life verse, I busted out Hebrews 13:8, which is a genuine favorite of mine, and the closest thing to a life verse I have.

Other guy: (has to look up verse in Bible) “…Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever?”

Me: “Yeah, that’s right. That’s my life verse.”

Other guy: “Really…I’ve never heard that one before. How has it guided you in your walk?”

Me: “…What?..Guided?..Walk?”

Other guy: “Well you know, for it to be a ‘life verse,’ it has to, you know be that beacon of light that guides your faith and life above all else.”

Me: “Oh…I use the whole Bible for that.”

Other guy: “Wel…I kno…(exasperated)…like when you don’t have time to read the Bible?”

Me: “You mean, what verse do I sum up the whole of God’s revelation in, to use when I’m sad like a good luck charm?”

Other guy: “Well…no.”

Me: “Do I still get points for stumping you with a verse you hadn’t heard of?”

Other guy: “…No.”

Those life verse people are tough!

So what’s your calling in life? Is God doing anything in your life these days? Do you have a life verse? (I really don’t look down on you – I feel like I’m missing out!) Feel free to answer any or all of those questions, or tell me you don’t believe in other people getting in your personal bid’ness.

Also, I won’t be blogging this Friday, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be depriving you, dear readers. Come join me at Stuff Christians Like for some Friday fun!