Monday, June 25, 2007

enthusiasm

Things are a bit brighter at this time of day. I had a date with about 100 kids this morning which took priority over the caffeine hideout. It’s a good change for me actually. I get a different drink, one that’s cold and blended as opposed to hot enough and stiff enough to blast me headlong into the week. This one is just smooth and soothing. It goes well with the sunshine streaming in from the street. I also have a fresh perspective, compliments of said 100+ cherubs who I was surrounded by all morning.
They reminded me what enthusiasm looks like. They also reminded me where enthusiasm came from.
At the risk of exerting my pastoral artist influence, I’ll just share that “enthusiasm” literally means “in God”. It is from “en – theos”. I had forgotten that bit of trivia. Fortunately 100+ “enthusiastic children did not. I was brought face to face with enthusiasm “en – theos” this morning as these children in question went crazy over the idea that the creator of the universe loves them unconditionally and, as a result, they are “enthusiastically” willing to love Him back.
The cynical ones in any crowd might observe that this is merely another occurrence of brain washing or crowd hysteria. Now I can be as cynical as the next guy, but allow me to share that this would be a load of crap. I’ve seen brain washing and I’ve witnessed crowd hysterics and none of this is even in the same league as the enthusiasm of a child showing appreciation for being loved. It’s a magical thing to witness really with not much room for cynicism.
Allow me to be philosophical for a moment, and believe me, for only a moment. I wouldn’t want to hurt myself. Contemporary social science teaches us that we have two innate needs within the human species. One is to love, and the other is to be loved. Coincidentally, or not, the Book of Books teaches us that we were created to love and to be loved. It would seem to me that reason would dictate that when even one of these aspects are being met, then a response would be demanded. We certainly have seen the wreckage from lives where these fundamental needs are not being met. It would also seem likely that we should give credit where credit is due.
Somewhere within the ancient wisdom and philosophy that many are quick to quote as a sort of merit badge for intellectual superiority lies the origin of the enthusiasm that I was privileged to witness this morning. Somewhere in classical thought, someone observed the reaction that we now call enthusiastic and decided that it’s origin was in fact “en-theos”. In other words, it was in and from God.
Basically, it is so much fun and enjoyment and joy all wrapped up into a demonstrative life. My wife is a very demonstrative person. You could say that she’s enthusiastic about life and you would be right on. It does indeed come from “en-theos”. It’s a great thing to watch how she takes in life. The inspiring part is that it is a natural expression of her child-like appreciation for the One who loves her unconditionally. The irony is that many who encounter her have a hard time believing that she is the spouse of a pastoral artist, let alone even a person of Christian faith. She could be a poster child for a living breathing faith, but for many it doesn’t add up. They’ve never seen it before.
Their experience is stoic, serious, prudent, and anti whatever the cause may be, people who look like the last thing on their daily agenda is to have a bit of fun, and then only fun with the strictest of guidelines. I don’t want to become one of those people. Let me be clear though, I don’t doubt their faith. I do question their understanding of what it means.
Jesus once declared that when you know the truth, “the truth will set you free”. The imagery that comes to mind is captives being set free. Too often I see the free looking like their being taken captive.
It is possible to live life enthusiastically “en theos”. I was able to witness it again this morning as 100+ children were led to show appreciation for being loved unconditionally. I have to admit that it seems so much easier for children to be able to demonstrate this. That is, until I remember the one who was leading said 100+ children this morning. She is very much an adult and very much “en-theos”. There’s hope for me still.

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