Though I will return to the theme of doubt throughout this year, I’m going take to talk about something else that has been on my mind.
A few weeks ago I had an email “exchange” with a fairly prominent Baptist denominational leader, who also happened to be someone I would call a friend to my in-laws. I wrote asking if this person knew of someone who could help me in an endeavor I was working on. The response I received was the email equivalent to an automated phone system: “Thank you for your email. Your email is very important to us but not important enough for me to actually answer you.” This coming from the person’s assistant. Needless to say, it wasn’t the response I was expecting. And truth be told, it made me really mad and I lost a lot of respect for this person.
There has been a lot written on our culture’s idol if busyness. Busyness is seen as a measure of success. It is seen as a status symbol, although a rather sadistic one. The same has become true for availability. You can see how these two would go hand in hand. When my life is going so well (as we mistakingly define “well”) that I’m busy to the point of exhaustion and insanity then I naturally become unavailable when you need my attention, my perspective or my opinion on something that is important to you. It’s another way to project that my life is more important than your life. My time is more important than your time. My problems are more important than your problems. The things I have to do are more important than the things you have to do. I’m more important than you.
Unavailability= I’m more important than you.
Sadly, Christians are no less unavailable than anyone else and even within the church environment, busyness and unavailability are markers of success. We have mistaken busyness for good ministry, good business and good parenting and our unavailability to church members, co-workers, family and strangers somehow shows that our work is important and therefore we are important.
Jesus, however, was never unavailable. Over and over within the gospels we see Jesus available to any and everyone who needed him. Whether it was a Roman Centurion, a poor widow, a leper, a blind man, a Pharisee or a demon possessed man, Jesus made himself available to them. In his availability, Jesus showed that his plans, his schedule, his life were not as important as the lives of others. The most important person who ever lived wasn’t too important to care about other people. Jesus was too important not to care.
Availability= Choosing to make you more important than me.
What does that mean for you and me? Do we need to be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for any and everyone who needs us? Does it mean that our plans, schedules and lives are unimportant? I don’t think so (unless you happen to be a parent). I think Jesus does give us an example to follow and the example is for you and I to go the second mile, turn the other check, offer our coat and make ourselves available in order to show that our lives aren’t the most important thing. If Jesus wasn’t too important for us, we shouldn’t be too important for others.
Living like others are important doesn’t mean answering every phone call, responding to every email or being available at a moments notice- but sometimes it does. Living like others are important does mean there will be times of inconvenience, times when plans change and sometimes it means helping a nobody who asks for it.
It’s good to be important but don’t be too important to care; be too important not to.