I'm sitting in my kitchen in the evening, winding down, getting ready for bed. Here, to my left, on the bottom shelf, is a device called the "Potato Express." I won it at a Christmas party a few years ago, at a Yankee gift swap with an "As Seen on TV" theme. It's still in the original packaging, gathering dust. Still, it claims to be an amazing little device, allowing you to microwave a potato perfectly in just four minutes. The outer packaging has these words of wisdom to share: "Cooks All Types of Potatoes--White, Red, Yams & More!" "Delicious, Steamy, Perfect Results!" "Washable & Reusable" To be honest, I'm afraid I'm not big on potatoes, which explains why it's still in the box. I do like sweet potatoes, though, and maybe should consider taking it out and giving it a try...
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that he came so that we would have life, and have it abundantly. He's describing a quality of life that John calls "eternal." A life lived deeply, richly, meaningfully. A life that is unbreakably connected to the creator of the universe. One theologian (Paul Tillich) describes God as the "ground of being." Jesus is offering us a life in which we are aware of and dwelling deeply within the very ground of being!
And my life includes the ability to microwave a potato in four minutes.
I don't think that's what Jesus was talking about.
It's moments like this when I become aware of the staggering difference between the way Jesus describes what life can be and the way most of us live our lives in a consumer-oriented society. Not that there's anything wrong with our society. It just... sometimes seems like there could be so much more.
It makes me feel restless. To want to go do something. Something big and important and meaningful. Something that changes people's lives. Isn't that what the Gospel is about? The Good News of Jesus Christ is transformative! As one of the speakers at this year's ELCA Youth Gathering said, the Gospel is dynamite! So why doesn't it stir us up a little more?
I wonder what we could do to reflect this dynamite in our daily living. How do we become more aware of God's presence in our lives? How do we live lives that are transformed, and that transform others?
We'll try and answer that question another day. For now, I just want to spend a little time living in that holy tension. The tension between abundant life and microwaved potatoes.