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October 24, 2016

Your Mundane Matters to Jesus

How do you start reading the Bible?

How can the life of Jesus encourage a young mom who changes diapers?

As a stay-at-home mother of four, my days are full of mundane tasks—endless cycles of preparation and cleanup for everything from dinner to laundry. Yes, there are tender moments that make it all worthwhile. But it’s easy to feel like the bulk of my life-work is mundane, unspiritual, and insignificant—

Until I turn my gaze to Jesus.

Five Ways Jesus Elevates Your Mundane

As Son of God dwelling among us in human flesh, Jesus became one of us, with intimate knowledge and experience of even our most mundane moments. Looking closely at his earthly life and work, I see opportunities for eternal significance in the mundane.

Here are five ways the life of Jesus informs the mundane aspects of our lives.

1. Jesus chose mundane activity for himself.

It’s amazing that the incarnate Word, by whom “all things were created on heaven and earth,” spent at least 30 earthly years doing carpentry (Colossian 1:16). Jesus, the One whose words flung planets into their orbits, labored for decades with simple tools to make common objects with his hands. This restraint of his creative power showcases the value God places on all daily work. It’s a tremendous encouragement to those, like me, who spend long days doing chores that seem to require little skill or education.

Furthermore, a close look at Jesus’ life in the gospels reveals that his days were filled with mundane activity similar to mine:

  • I spend lots of time cooking meals for my family, and Jesus prepared meals for those under his care (breakfast on the beach and supper on the hillside).
  • I repeatedly scrub dirty hands, and he washed the disciples’ feet.
  • I spend hours holding children in my arms, reading stories, and listening to their chats; Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” and took them in his arms (Matthew 19:14).
  • I find myself exhausted, snoozing off in the midst of commotion; Jesus slept on a boat in a storm.

And this is all following the years he spent daily plying at his earthly father’s trade.

It’s comforting to have a Savior who spent his limited days on earth doing the things that fill mine. If the Son of Man, who will one day descend with the clouds of heaven, made time to hold some kids and cook some fish, I see new significance in my work and find it a privilege to follow his example.

2. Jesus commanded others to do mundane activities.

Some of the things Jesus asked people to do during his miracle events seem terribly inefficient, considering his almighty power.

  • Why did he ask the servants at the Cana wedding to fill jars with 120 gallons of water, which must have taken a lot of time and effort, when he could have filled them with wine on the spot?
  • Why did he ask his disciples to “go and see” how many loaves they had, when he was about to miraculously feed 5,000 people?
  • Why did Jesus send the blind man, with mud and spit on his eyes, to go wash in the pool of Siloam when he healed others right on the spot?

There are lessons in each of these examples, but the common thread is that the omnipotent Master of the universe chooses to work his wonders in and through mundane daily activities—like filling water jugs, checking the pantry, and washing off mud. So things that seem insignificant to us are elevated when they are done in obedience to Jesus, our God who took on flesh.

3. Jesus challenges our view of mundane activity.

In a culture that prizes education and significant, visible, lasting contributions to society, the simple tasks of life and daily care of the vulnerable are not highly valued. I’ve seen this firsthand in the comments I received before and after I left my job as an engineer to stay home with my children. Many people felt I was wasting my skills to spend my days doing something as mundane as childcare.

However, that’s not the teaching of the God-man Jesus. He taught that a heavenly reward awaits those who give a cup of water to one of his followers. He taught that the path to greatness was through service, not lordship. He said many who are first will be last, and the last, first.

It is interesting to consider that Jesus didn’t recruit his leadership team in the way many would have expected. He chose his apostles from those familiar with manual labor. At least four of his disciples were fishermen, and the converted Pharisee Paul was a tent-maker. When Jesus called them to a new role in following him, he elevated their old profession: The disciples would fish for men. The ever-traveling Paul would help us grasp the temporariness of our earthly homes using his familiarity with tents.

Jesus also reflected the embrace of the mundane in the ordinances he instituted for believers to celebrate in community. The sacraments of baptism and communion are spiritual elevations of the commonplace activities of washing and eating. The Lord has built pictures of heavenly realities that we can easily grasp into the most basic elements of our daily lives—and this should lead us to worship.

Therefore, it is appropriate and right to thank the Bread of Life when we eat a meal that energizes us. We can praise the One who shed his cleansing blood to make us holy and blameless while we take a shower. Jesus’ earthly life showed us that there is nothing too lowly to lift our gaze to heaven when the Spirit empowers our vision.

4. Jesus communes with us through mundane activity.

In a day when devoted worshipers of the Lord made frequent visits to the temple, God’s dwelling place with man, Jesus made an incredible promise: He said we commune with him when we serve those who are helpless and cannot pay us back.

Jesus, with a child in his arms said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9:37). Jesus says that my daily interactions with my children, when done in the Lord’s name, are like the offerings of a priest in the temple, sacred and holy before him.

So, in my seemingly mundane work, while I change a diaper or wipe a dirty face, the Father through the Spirit in Jesus’ name is my intimate companion. What a privilege!

5. Jesus celebrates mundane activity done in his name.

In his teaching about the final days, Jesus tells his followers:

“Come, you who are blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:34-39)

I find it interesting that the activities I am most tempted to despise are celebrated, while those I long to be freed up for (specifically writing and teaching) are not mentioned. It also strikes me that all of these conditions—hunger, thirst, strangeness, nakedness, sickness, imprisonment—are things that won’t be in heaven. They are mundane in the most literal sense; they are of this world and temporal.

We have a unique occasion, before the return of Christ, to serve him in a way that we won’t be able to forever. My opportunities to care for a sick child or feed a hungry mouth will come and go and never return after Jesus does. This motivates me to embrace them with gusto!

Your Mundane Matters

All our “mundane” is meant to be offered as a living sacrifice. As servants doing mundane work, we are beautiful and reflect our Savior, who took on human flesh to walk in our shoes all the way to the cross. His sinless, incarnate life is the ultimate expression of human holiness, and I long to do the will of my Father as he did.

May we sacrificially embrace each task, even the most mundane, knowing everything done in his name carries eternal significance.

How does the incarnation of Jesus elevate the significance of your daily work?

[Photo Credit: Lightstock]

Rachel Lehner

Rachel Lehner is married to Peter, has four children, and serves in women's ministry at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church. Among other things, she loves helping with math homework and reciting Dr. Seuss from memory.
Rachel Lehner is married to Peter, has four children, and serves in women's ministry at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church. Among other things, she loves helping with math homework and reciting Dr. Seuss from memory.