“I don’t know how you guys do it!” This seemed to be a recurring question this trip to Singapore as we catch up with friends and family. These same friends and family follow us on Facebook to keep up to date. Praise God for Facebook to keep us connected despite being separated by physical distance. Kat and I have been asked this question before. Even when we’re in Brisbane. I guess we always sheepishly shrugged it off. Either by saying, “with lots of grace from God” or “yeah it can be tough sometimes” (and it is!).
What is “it”? They are referring to, when more fully spelt out, “I don’t know how you guys can handle having 4 young kids and still do so much.” “I don’t know how you guys can hold a job – as a worker or mum – and still serve so much at church.” “I don’t know how you guys can have 4 kids and find the time for reading God’s word, praying and ministering to people.” “I don’t know how you guys find the time to meet people and show hospitality to everyone around you.” Basically what they mean, without knowing it, is asking, “I don’t know how you guys can live like Christians!”
This question has been especially impactful this past week as we came back to Singapore. When we see so many struggling to balance the demands of the crazy work life here with Christian living and home. “I don’t know how you guys do it, we can never do it in Singapore!” Yet, I have seen others in Singapore who did.
As I contemplate on this, I kept asking, “what’s different? How do we do it?” Of course, the saying goes, “It’s easier said than done.” First the “said” logic. As a Christians, the call and logic is simple – Once we repent, believe and turn towards choosing Jesus as our Lord and savior, we have essentially transferred ourselves to a different Kingdom. The heavenly kingdom, the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Col 1:13-14). When we are a new kingdom’s subjects, we are to live like who we are and follow the new kingdom’s commands and commissions. What are they? This is also simply laid out for us – (1) Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matt 22:36-40) (2) Go and make disciples of all nations everywhere (Matt 28:16-20). This kingdom remains forever in eternity. It means no end date. This world we live in has a finite expiry date. The one we as Christians belong to doesn’t have an expiry date.
Now, how do we “do it”? To live as we “say” as outlined above? I guess over the last 8 years especially, Kat and I just lived it as if we are Christians. What do I mean? When we get a job, do we not turn up on the first day on time? Do we not do what is outlined in the job description? Sure, we get paid in the end for doing it, but don’t doctors turn up at the hospital to “live” as a doctor to heal patients? For those of us who migrated to Australia, do we not do as the Aussies do? We put our kids to school. We learn (some of us slower than others) cricket and rugby. We learn how to throw on a barbie. We “live” as our professions and we “live” as a citizen of a country. When it comes to instructions, we follow them because its logical and would lead to a logical outcomes When we have a terminal sickness, wouldn’t we follow our doctor’s advice and do any treatment they prescribe?
So, for Kat and I, how do we “do it”? We simply live as who we are. On the one hand, the expiring, finite world, the society that is so fickle and changes their mind on what is wrong and right for convenience, the quick-to-judge-people who live in it tells us to chase a career, to live in a good house, to have enough to afford good food and a holiday, to have a good car and to give our kids enough for a good education so that they can do it all the same again in an expiring, morally lost and judgmental world over and over and over again. On the other, a redeeming savior that gave us citizenship in a never expiring eternal world. With no judgement and a deep love with a perfect father. A ruler that promises to take care of us as his subjects even in this temporary foreign world that is not ours. All we’re asked is to live like who we are in this foreign world as “passing through” sojourners. To love those around us and to invite them to join this kingdom of Christ. “Doing it” is kind of a no-brainer really.
I think the biggest issue with most who ask is that they don’t understand or realise the magnitude of Jesus’ command when he said, “take up your cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24-26). He never promised a safe and smooth ride through this foreign land. As we read Luke 9 verses 57 to 62, we know that Jesus himself has expanded on the cost it would take for a person who follows him. It is going to be hard! No place to “lay his head” (Luke 9:58). No time to bury the dead (v59,60). No time to go say goodbye to people at home (v61, 62). Jesus likes to use extreme examples (hyperbole) to make his point. He is laying it out to us that if you choose to follow me, you’ve got work to do here before he comes again. We can enjoy the riches in eternal glory later. Now, you are to live as foreigners, loving God, loving others and try to transfer them to my kingdom. You’ve got no time to live like the foreigners to! You’ve got no time to live in a lush comfortable home. You shouldn’t have time to earn so much to own so much to buy so much to go places that don’t matter. As kingdom-of-light-glory-bound citizens, you have no time to work so much that loving others and sharing the gospel is secondary! Because you are tired!
Kat and I might feel like the odd, strange ones here, but as I contemplate on Luke 9, I find solace and comfort that its worth it. We are indeed living as who we are and not conforming to this world. I pray that we will never conform. And I pray that we can live such that our kids will too. That they will see how sojourners of this land should live like and our identity here will influence them to choose the better citizenship one day. This is why we “drag” them everywhere as we catch up with people. This is why we earn and spend money the way we do. This is why we live where we live. This is why we “holiday” the way we do. This is why we organise our work and life the way we do. I can’t see how else we should live as Christians. I can’t give any other reasons to live any other way as Christians. How can “us guys” do it? We can do it because we live as Christians – people belonging to and following Christ in his kingdom.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:57–62, ESV