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"What is worst of all is to advocate Christianity, not because it is true, but because it might prove useful."

T. S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society

For some strange reason known only to God and my mother, at the age of ten, I was given the job of being the chief mashed-potato maker in our home. I might have interpreted this honor as recognition of my knack for the culinary arts if it wasn't for the fact that we are talking about instant mashed-potatoes here. Flakes, water, butter, and salt. Not a likely start to a hit series on the Food channel.

While other kids were getting, "Johnny can throw harder than anybody on the team," or, "Allison was born to play piano," I got, "Nobody makes mashed-potatoes quite like Dougie."

It was years before I understood the method in mom's flattery, and I don't blame her for using whatever strategy worked to get some needed help from a very unmotivated kid. But being valued for one's usefulness definitely had more benefit for the value-er than for the value-ee.

If assigning usefulness to another person seems selfish, what happens when we do the same thing with God? How do I use thee, God? Let me count the ways...

Getting my way. Impressing my friends. Enhancing my reputation. Getting out of a jam.

It's human nature to want my way, so recruiting God for that purpose has an certain logic, and a sneaky way of seeming right. It's that fact that makes what Jesus did on Good Friday all the more amazing.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!" Philipians 2:5–8

God help this flake get out of his box and be a real servant for You.

March 24, 2005 | Permalink


Ouch! And well said.

Posted by: violet on Mar 25, 2005 9:36:54 AM

That was a beautiful blog Doug. And prayers go out to your mother and the whole family. Getting old ain't for chickens.

Posted by: Candace Pfau on Jun 2, 2005 3:01:59 PM

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