“Do you spit in the face of God?”
Egads – not an easy one to answer, and I’m sure my face reflected that there was an explosion of reactive thoughts and emotions coursing through me, before I finally settled on: “I probably do, but NOT intentionally.”
My colleague admitted that he had not received that answer before. We went on to discuss, at length. He’s been pondering this one for a while. We agreed that any time anything is done to hurt, deceive, strangle, damage, or in any way destroy their relationship with God, it is an insult –spitting in the face. Even those things done in ignorance: if I’ve said or done something to hurt someone but don’t know it, it doesn’t lessen the hurt.
“So how do you unintentionally spit in the face of God?” my friend asked.
Hmm. Another tough one. Another myriad of thoughts and reflections racing through my brain. So I responded the only way I could: “Hmm. I. Um. Let me think on that. *pause* I guess the same way I inadvertently break or damage relationship with anyone – broken baptismal vows, lack of respect, speaking in anger…”
He cut me off before we got too specific, and instead shared an idea with me: “The Creator has given us all amazing gifts, right?”
Yes, of course; I could easily agree with that.
“And it’s up to us to determine how we use them?”
I nodded, somewhat hesitantly, waiting for the proverbial lightbulb to go on over my head.
“So when we aren’t using our gifts to the best of our ability, we’re essentially rejecting what the Creator has given us. Isn’t that spitting in the face of God?”
Needless to say, the room was silent for a bit, but the thinking hasn’t ceased.
When it comes down to it, this is a basic concept. We appreciate when someone we love gives us something; we use it, knowing that this is something given to us carefully by someone who knows us well. We would never ignore it or mistreat it, especially when we know that person will be watching to see what we do with it. A hand-knitted sweater? We wear it, especially when we know we’ll see that person. Home made jam? We delight in it, savour it, and return the empty jar with hopes for a refill. A carefully chosen novel with a personal inscription? It moves to the top of our to-be-read pile, and we enter into conversation about it with the giver once we’re done it.
So, then, how do we respond to the gifts that are given to us from God? From the one who knows us and loves us best of all? Do we bring them out as often as possible, using them over and over until they resemble that well-worn sweater or dog-earred novel? Do we show the world how much the gift – and by extension, the giver – mean to us by regularly using these things? Or do we ignore it, unintentionally hurt the giver, spit in the face of God?
I expect that no one would wish to cause such insult. But I suspect that we all, at some point, have unintentionally done just that. We’ve ignored a gift, we’ve let apathy prevent us from using that gift, we’ve let fear paralyze us from action. We’ve been given a gift, and we’ve not used it. Sometimes we don’t even realize or recognize that we’ve been given the gift – if we’re still not using it, though, the result is the same. An insult.
The challenge for us all, then, becomes identifying these gifts in our lives. It requires dedicated time and effort to really recognize what were capable of, and what God is calling us to do. It will take some honest conversations with people who know us well, so that through them we can see what the rest of the world sees, and delight when a hidden gift is revealed that way. It takes prayer, it takes openness, it takes a willingness to not just see the gifts but then accept the responsibility of using those gifts.
And use them we should; fully and completely, in the world, to the glory of God. Our gifts may grow and mature as we do too, so we should regularly re-evaluate what gifts God has given us at this time to use and share. But the time in discernment is worthwhile; the joy in acknowledging the gift is true and profound; the peace that comes from appreciating and using the gift is sublime. It is the peace that comes from knowing that we have intentionally avoided insulting God.