Are you a productive member of God's Kingdom?

When I was growing up it was common to hear people exhorted to become productive members of society. I was thinking of that today as I waited for my Grandson to be dropped off so I could take him to the house where he is presently living. He is 21 and has Aspergers. He is very bright but obsessive about some things of no productive value to Society and very naive or clueless about social standards. Now not caring about social standards is one thing, not being aware is another. He is not now a productive member of society. Unless a light goes on in his inner consciousness, it is unlikely he will ever be a productive member of society. He lives in a world of fantasy where he is the main character. He thinks what he wants to talk about is important in the way a young child does. But he's not a young child. He takes medications to help him cope with a list of lettered conditions and uses them as a reason not to stretch himself. He is the opposite extreme from the student who commits suicide because he fails to be the perfect student. He solves puzzles as quickly as I do but he complains that doing them is hard work. He has already outworn his welcome in his parents' separate homes and is unwilling to accept the discipline necessary to live in peace with others. Unlike many who have been burned out by drugs, alcohol or war he has capabilities society has made it unnecessary for him to use because so far he is willing to settle for a self-absorbed existence in a world of video games and animated movies. In short, he doesn't care if he becomes a productive member of society and from what I can see, neither does society. Society just wants him to be a consumer. If he isn't going to make enough money to buy a house with all the appliances and consumables inherent in such ownership, it will settle for medical visits and support services and video games, cell phones and the like, and it will do so with money it taxes from its remaining, though dwindling in number, productive members.
When I was a child in Catholic grammar school a Nun said the US would eventually, like the declining Roman Empire, become a place where its citizens would waste their time at sporting events watching the Lions beat the Christians. Quite prophetic, except that in the NFL the Lions haven’t done well for years. If it wasn't for the many immigrants who have come to this country seeking a better life, our society would be even more decadent than it is. As it is, it's a society that values consumerism over life, a society where "Quality of Life" reigns, where greed is good and political correctness is more respected than truth.
Fortunately, I am a pilgrim in a foreign land. I am happy that God blessed me with the life I have had in this place we call the United States, in a time that has allowed me to learn freely of mankind's strengths and weaknesses. But I am past the day when I believed my life was dependent on the outcome of partisan politics. I am more than a voter or a man or a father. I am a soul. This life is preparation for eternity, not my Florida retirement. And it is with this in mind that I must ask myself if I am a productive member of God's kingdom. Do I allow God to use me to bring peace to earth? Do I reach out to those who like my grandson are less fortunate than I? Do I try to maintain that place where my heart aches at their misfortune and at the same time prays for their souls to overcome the inadequacies of their bodies and minds? Do I help others?
My wife has a granddaughter with Autism. Unknown when I had my own children, it now seems that every family has a child, nephew or niece suffering from this terrible affliction. My wife works full time and babysits several times a week to help her son and daughter-in-law. My sister-in-law pitches in as well. Strengthened by their faith and knowledge of what God has done for them, these women are productive members of God's Kingdom. They are not helping because they enjoy it, they help because they know if the shoe was on the other foot they would need someone to help them.
Look at your life! Are you a productive member of God's Kingdom? Are you stretching your ability to let God's love flow through you to those you live and work with? Is it too hard to love your enemy? Are you self-absorbed in this fantasy world of consumerism where the answer to terrorism is to go shopping? Are you willing, like James and John, to drink the cup that Jesus drank; accepting God’s will for your life in exchange for your own? A will that might include loving your spouse in sickness as well as in health; in poorness as well as in wealth?
Our present western society might be willing to coddle those who decide it's too hard to become a productive member of society, but there's a King in Matthew 25:41-46 who isn't going to accept those who find it too hard to become productive members of His Kingdom. George Fox said there is that of God in every man, but as the parable of the talents(Matthew 25:14-30) makes plain, you are responsible for using that piece of God in you productively. .

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Comment by Rosemary Gould on 11th mo. 1, 2010 at 12:44pm
Very searching questions. I struggle with these things all the time when I look for guidance about myself and about my son with autism. Something that has helped me when I consider his condition is what another mother said to me years ago about her daughter. We were talking about how difficult it is to figure out how to teach our kids and she said, "But, you know, Phoebe wasn't sent here to learn. She was sent to teach." We're both trying to meet our children's needs for education, social skills, and knowledge of God, and some children with autism are capable of learning a lot. Nevertheless, my son has been much more of a teacher to me than I have been to him.
Comment by James C Schultz on 11th mo. 1, 2010 at 12:53pm
Rosemary, I agree there is much to be gained from living with autism. It deepens our compassion and lets patience have its perfect work in us.


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