Good Habits Header

I was talking with one of you about habits. Good habits. Like eating vegetables, going to church, exercising, going to church, saving money and, well, you know, going to church.

And you said this wise thing, noting how easy it is to grow out of good habits, especially with the 2+ years our world has struggled with COVID-19.

You said, “I can’t do it by myself.” 

This is the genius of Christianity. Lots of faiths, especially consumerism, act like you can do everything that matters on your own–work harder, chin up, bootstraps and all that. Not Christian faith. When God floods the world with grace, he does so with a family: Abraham and Sarah’s. When God comes among us in person, he first chooses twelve friends. Not the best friends, but nevermind. God, in three persons, is eternal harmony, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Nothing worthwhile ever happens alone.

Note how counter-cultural this is. In our culture we love stories of the solo genius emerging from nowhere with some new gizmo that betters the world. The great Canadian commentator Malcolm Gladwell notes the nonsense hidden here: for every Bill Gates there are 10,000 hours of training, all put in place by countless teachers, mothers, drivers, coders, janitors, cooks, public servants and more. Even great plural acts need 10,000 hours of practice and an army of helpers. None of us does anything alone. That’s just what it means to be human.

The great western author Wallace Stegner, responding to the stereotype of the rugged frontier individualist, liked to say that in the actual pioneer west of North America, the only individualist was hanging at the end of a rope held up by a bunch of collectivists. 

So back to coming to church. It’s hard, especially if you have kids or elders or a spouse who is even a little more begrudging than you about going. Find a friend. Check on them. Offer them a ride. Take up the offer of a ride from them. I find I don’t do things that are good for me even if I really, really want to. But if a friend is outside in the cold waiting for me, I’ll respond. Social shame is more powerful than individual shame. It’s just the way we’re made, as reflections of the Trinity.

See you in church, especially in Advent and Christmas. And eat a few vegetables too while you’re at it. I mean we...while we’re at it...

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