Thursday, February 3, 2011

Minimum vs. Maximum

“We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.” Hebrews 6: 11-12

What is the minimum I have to do to get the maximum amount of return?

This is a question that people ask themselves all the time. And in many instances, we then act on the answer we find. If given the choice to work as hard as possible, or work as little as possible, but still receive the same amount of pay and not get fired from a job, or not get an “F” in school, which would you choose? I think this kind of attitude points to another hallmark or defining ideology of our current world. It is called minimalism. The idea is that I walk through life doing the bare minimum I have to in order to live, to earn a living, to survive, to keep my marriage intact, to love my kids, to love my parents, to maintain my friendships, etc.

It’s about cutting corners and trying to get the most out of the least amount of effort and time. It is a fear of commitment. And ultimately, it can cause us to take this approach in our relationship God: what is the minimum I need to believe, I need to do, I need to say…in order to be a real Christian, or to call myself Catholic without feeling guilty about it. We say to ourselves, “I don’t need to be a Saint, I just need to do the basic necessities to follow Christ”. We stop trying to get to heaven and instead aim for purgatory.

But the problem with setting the bar low is that we rarely live up to the bar no matter where it is at. So we need to set the bar high and then if we fall a little short, we have still excelled. Living a life of minimalism is living a cheated life. It is living a lazy life. It is often leading a life of quiet desperation. Rather than living a life of greatness, we settle for less than mediocre and in the end we sluggishly trudge through life thinking that this is all there is. We seek to survive rather than to thrive. And this is not what God created us for. God created us for greatness! God created us to live life and to live it to the full.  He does not want us to simply wander through life getting away with whatever we can, with doing the least instead of our best.

Do you want to be happy? Do you want to be fulfilled? Do you want to be great? I thought so. Then go beyond the lie of a minimalistic life and strive for holiness, strive for excellence. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a lawyer, a student, a soldier, or any number of other occupations or positions in life—live life to the full.  We ARE called to be Saints and there is not one Saint that did the minimum in life. There is not one Saint that just tried to get away with what they could. Every Saint thrived, no matter their circumstances.

And if Jesus had given the minimum, would He have died on that cross? I doubt it. He would probably have given up right before the scourging. I’m sure the suffering He endured in the garden or at the hands of those who arrested Him would have been more than most people would have done. But not our God! Our God has given us His ALL. How can we not do the same?

Dear Jesus, help me to give my all each day as You did. With the help of Your grace, may I live life to the full, rather than settle for mediocrity and desperation. Amen.

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