I grew up believing that faith was part of my life, one slice on the pie chart graphing my priorities, passions, attention – graphing “me.” Lessons in children’s church, youth group, even “big church” implored me to make faith the most important thing in my life; to love God more than anything else, spend more time in prayer and scripture, to prioritize frequent church events. I could like and do other things, of course; but whatever I loved had to be loved less than God, and whatever I did had to make room for doing more things explicitly for God.
I hadn’t yet learned that whatever you love is a part of God.
Going into adolescence and adulthood, this distinction between God and everything else merged with a protestant work ethic. For those who were not blessed enough to be called to an ordained Christian ministry career, fear not! There was yet a way to do it for God’s glory! Whatever secular job you had, “Do it the best you can!” they said. “All the while, you must be a witness for Christ to anyone who might ask you about him.” (And, more sneakily, even to the ones who didn’t ask.) In my first jobs as a Quizno’s sandwich maker and a mail-sorter, doing them Christianly meant being the best worker so that everyone would notice me, then leveraging my
being noticed as an opportunity to evangelize. I was a secret agent of conversion, an operative in a Salvific Sleeper Cell.
No one was teaching me that whatever I love is a part of God.
Praise God, I found out anyway. Now, I’m telling you.
To love what you do, to get caught up in the doing of it, is a great holiness unto itself. To be a “Christian custodian” is not to be a tireless scrubber of grime, playing Christian hymns on your radio and hoping someone asks you what makes you “different.” Rather, you can love it because you are participating in the character of God who brings order out of chaos, restores, and delights in beautiful places. To be a “Christian business owner” is not to climb over others to the top to elevate and amplify your Christian voice and clout, as if any more dignity could be brought to
Christ. Rather, it is participating in the shepherding of others, the creation of new things or finding new ways to use the things that God made for us. You can participate fully in the work of God while mending a wound, harvesting food, or answering phones, just as you would preaching
a sermon – perhaps even more so. In most every job I’ve had, I’ve fallen in love with the work itself – not because I used it to some other end, or exchanged sweat and tears for divine satisfaction or approval.
I loved those jobs because they were a part of God.
Moreover, I’ve grown deeper in my love for “secular” things and consistently found God there, too. My love for movies engages with the divine act of storytelling, whereby God and God’s interpreters so frequently used fiction, parable, and creative remembrance to communicate truths
and wonders that logic and facts so often miss. My love for writing echoes God’s love of language, and its imperfect yet imaginative way of wrestling with, and ultimately communicating complex ideas like grace or mercy. My passion for local and national politics is a part of God’s hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice, and desire to see them actualized among real
people in real places.
The things that you really, deeply love are not distractions from God. They, like prayer, scripture, and church-going— are loves that imbue life with meaning and grace, offering glimpses and surprises of God’s vastness and goodness. The mystics might even say that the love itself is God, electrifying and reducing the space between us and the ineffable Divine.
Your faith is not separate from your loves. Faith is the context within which you can see your loves for what they truly are: a part of God.