a bit monkish.
I remember a conversation with one of our children about the importance of cleaning one's room. My child's response? “Define clean.”
Many of us are like that. We think about the minimum we have to do in order to call a project completed. Perhaps it’s a research paper in school (“What’s the minimum I have to do to earn an ‘A’?); or a project at work (“What’s the minimum of what I need to accomplish to get a good performance evaluation?”); or working out (“What’s the minimum I have to exercise in order to lost weight?”). It might even be pastoral visitation (“What’s the least amount of time I can spend visiting someone and still call it effective ministry?”).
Jesus was never about giving minimum effort. To the future disciples he said, “Leave your nets behind and follow me (Matthew 4:19).” To the rich young ruler he said, “Give away everything you have (Mark 10:21).” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).” He didn’t say we’re supposed to give a little bit in our relationship with him. Instead, Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me (Luke 9:23).” We’re supposed to give up our lives so we can find life in Christ.
I think if we’re honest, we’d admit that The Minimums are a regular part of our lives. The Minimums show up everywhere in our lives, if we just have the courage to see.
How might your life look if you didn’t seek a minimum commitment to Jesus, but instead sought a life of complete commitment to him? How might this affect other areas of your life? I’m convinced that our relationship with Christ affects all areas of our lives. It affects how we perform at work, how we interact with others, how we parent our children, how we approach school works, everything!
The Minimums have no part in a Christian’s life. A life in Christ is all about The Maximums. It’s like that old baseball adage, “Swing as hard as you can and let the chips fall where they may.” In everything that makes us who we are, and in everything we do, let’s swing hard as we can and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. The time we have on earth is too short not to give 100% effort in everything we do. God expects nothing less from us.
This isn't about working our way into God's favor. Not at all! Living in The Maximums is about giving ourselves completely to God. When that happens, our effort may not even seem like effort. Work may not always seem like work. Mundane tasks take on a deeply spiritual flavor because everything we do is for God's glory.
I guess it all comes down to this: Life in The Minimums is living for ourselves. Life in in The Maximums is living for Christ.
(c) 2015 Michael C. Voigts
I'm a follower of Christ serving as an Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary.