I Serve at the Pleasure

 

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I am a fan of dramatic criminal and political television. Castle, Chuck, The West Wing, NCIS, Blue Bloods, I’ve binged watched and since forgotten most of them.

But my ongoing favorite, my consistent go-to, is Madam Secretary.

It’s my jam.

In case it’s not your jam, the titular Madam Secretary is one Elizabeth McCord, who hesitantly accepted the role of Secretary of State from her old CIA boss (now the President.)

Secretary McCord is a diplomat, a passionate speaker, a mother of three, and she champions the rights of the downtrodden and mistreated around the globe while trying to protect Americans.

Elizabeth often disagrees with the President. She is frequently told to do something against her better judgement, or to act for the greater good, despite those actions being negative (or even fatal) for an individual. The twists and turns of the show revolve around the tensions Elizabeth feels when her own beliefs conflict with what she must do as Secretary of State. She often fights back against the demands of her superiors. But at the end of the day, she must concede to what she is told.

And when that happens, she stands straight, looks her boss in the eye, and says, “I serve at the pleasure of the President.”

I looked up the origin of that phrase.

It’s complicated.

But it started way back with the French in 1205, with the saying, “the will of the king.” Meaning whatever he wants, happens. It appeared in America’s language bank in 1789, when James Madison argued for the Presidential Cabinet to be fully under the power of the President.

The saying has had a convoluted history since then, but it has come to mean simply this: In the end, what the President says, goes.

If you fail to do what the President says, you will likely be fired. If you try but are unsuccessful at doing what the President says, you may tender your resignation.

You serve the President, whether you entirely agree or not.

Don’t panic. I’m not actually going to make a political point.

I’m just wondering at whose pleasure you serve?

Who gets the final call in your life? In your decisions? In the end, do you serve at the pleasure of others? Of yourself? Of capitalism? Of justice?

 

thinkstockphotos-584772758Me, I serve at the pleasure of the King, Jesus.

At least, I say I do.

But I often find myself grumbling, questioning, justifying. I don’t understand the will of the King, and from where I sit, it often doesn’t seem to be in my best interests.

Or it just seems straight up wrong.

I’ve been reading the book of Job this week, an ancient story of a man who had everything – literally everything he could wish for – and God allowed him to fall to the bottom of society, destitute, sick, his family dead. The majority of the book revolves around three of Job’s friends arguing with him that he must have done something to deserve this. In ancient times (and sometimes modern times, if we’re honest) they believed that the gods punished you based on your actions. If you were dealt a bad hand, it was either your fault or your parents’ fault.

But Job spends about 3,000 words defending himself, saying he is righteous. He demands that God explain himself.

Weirdly enough, God does, in fact, answer Job.

And it’s a smackdown.

In another 3,000 words or so, God essentially says this: “Job, do you know everything? Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

It’s a pretty magnificent smackdown, and a really neat piece of literature, if you’re into that sort of thing.

But what it reminded me was that I am not God. I do not serve at my own pleasure because I truly believe that God is greater than I am. He knows more. In fact, he actually knows everything. I do not. I mean, I’m pretty close. But not quite there yet.

Anyway.

I serve at the pleasure of a being who is so entirely powerful, so immensely good, so incredibly wise that I will never, even after 10,000 years of eternity, know everything about him.

So I’m going to try to spend a little less time asking, “Why me? Why them? Why now?” and a little more time standing up straight and saying, “I serve at the pleasure.”

Real Questions

“My grandmother says that God speaks to her. I think she’s crazy. Is she crazy, or does that really happen?”
“If I accept Jesus, will I feel different? Will there be some sort of relief or something?”
“My family talks behind my aunt’s back when she brings her partner to family functions, but they say they’re Christians. Why does that happen?”
“Did God plan to send Jesus from the beginning or was Jesus already here and God said, ‘While you’re there, I need you to do something?'”
“Do I have to not believe in evolution if I believe in Jesus?”
“I don’t get the Holy Spirit thing. Is it God? Is it an actual spirit that possesses people?”
“Where does sin come from?”

Those were all questions that a college student asked me over coffee yesterday. When I met her the week before, she’d been quiet and polite and mostly just nodded along as I explained the gospel to her.

But this week, she came prepared with her questions – and from the way she asked them, I knew they were things that had been bothering her for a while.

I was surprised but delighted, and stumped more than once.

The longer we talked, the more I realized I was in over my head.

So, here’s my advice to you for today: Do your research before you start a conversation about Jesus. Because you never know what someone will throw at you.

And I’m going to go take my own advice before I talk with this girl again.

Nerf guns and the Great Commission

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on time and time travel and theories of time. And when I say “research,” I really mean that I’ve been asking sci-fi nerds (ahem…fans) for ideas and watching TV shows and reading synopses of books on Amazon.

Why, you may ask? Because I’m writing a play that requires time travel to make the plot fit together. And I’m writing it for work, so this “research” is officially Cru sanctioned. So that’s my life. Anything interesting happening for you?

Also, and surprisingly not-relatedly, the large work table in our team’s section of the office is currently housing a growing arsenal of nerf guns, as well as a stockpile of Ramen noodle packages.

And in the midst of this, I feel absolutely confident that God is using our team to build His Kingdom. What a fascinating twist on the great commission: therefore go and become experts on all men (even the nerdy ones and the college students), that you might relate to them and reel them in like fish into a net of truth in a sea of lies and darkness.

What unexpected or unusual things in your life might God be using to build His Kingdom?