I think most Christian moms have been told how changing diapers is redemptive work. I have multiple times! But the moments where I have changed diapers in the dark at three in the morning or cleaned up so many messes from potty training that I know for certain my clothes must be drenched don’t feel redemptive. This is the nature of truth; it doesn’t always feel true, but it always remains true.
The mundane will remain
Whether it’s a job with mundane requirements, parental duties, or just living with the effects of the fall, every person has menial tasks that are required to live life. When we are born, we first learn menial tasks like holding a cheerio with our fingertips or putting our ball back in the toy box. Rebellion kicks in at some point, and we neglect or flat out refuse to do these unworthy acts, cleaning the toilet being the worst offense of all. College is when we set out to go beyond ordinary jobs (the jobs we had to take in order to pay for that college). Bigger and better things are on the horizon! After college is the “happily ever after” of paying others to do what we should not.
Except, we all know that is not true. Most of life is trading mundane tasks for other mundane tasks. Some are definitely harder than others, and we all know toilet and diaper duty are on the top of most lists. Praise God, because he sanctifies us with these requirements, and Jesus didn’t put himself above them either.
Jesus took on the mundane
Of course, our ultimate example will always be Christ himself who took on the form of a servant and came in the likeness of men, served the poor, needy, weak, and wounded, and died with the punishment of our sins on him (Phil 2:7-8). Don’t neglect the weightiness of these truths. God humbled himself and served.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:8-11)
Jesus’s ministry was filled with service for the people he loved, and his ultimate act of love was his death on the cross. Through the cross every act of service has meaning for believers. All of our acts of love point to Jesus’s act of love. Without Christ we have no existence; we are dead in our sin (Eph 2:1). With Christ, we have eternal purpose.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)
Jesus uses the mundane
All of our mundane tasks exalt something. Either we perform these tasks with sinful hearts and point to our pride, or we use the mundane to show Christ’s love and willingness to sacrifice himself for others. Paul tells us not to grumble and complain so that we can bear the light of the gospel to a crooked and twisted world (Phil 2:14-15). What does this look like?
- Cleaning up your neighbor’s dog’s waste that is in your yard
- Folding bulletins for your pastor each week
- Filing paperwork every day at your job
- Bringing your neighbor’s trash can to the road for pick up
- Giving someone a ride to church
- Changing a diaper
- Changing a diaper again
- Folding laundry for your spouse
- Putting away dishes and cleaning up the house while babysitting
- Picking up trash on your street
- Drying off the counter in the church restroom
- Packing your child’s school lunch
- Weeding the garden
All of our mundane tasks reveal or diminish our pride. Sadly, my best cleaning jobs happen when I am angry about something. I’ve wished many times that I could tap into that energy without sinning! However, when we are walking in the Spirit, God uses the mundane to whittle down our self-righteousness. Service humbles us. Servant-like jobs show us how insignificant we are. Performing mundane tasks as slaves for Christ shows that we serve a good Master. We see the love Christ has for us, and we recognize that any moment to humble us and exalt Christ is significant and valuable. Amazingly, Jesus came to serve sinners, so when we take part in works of service, we look more like Christ. These mind-numbing tasks become a means of transforming our hearts. These works don’t earn our salvation, rather they show the work Christ has already done.
God made us lights in this world, even when we are doing simple, ordinary things. God uses those good works to glorify himself (Mat 5:16). So, as we file paperwork, wipe the counter, wash the car, pick up trash in our neighborhood, or clean up after a work party, we remember that this can all be redemptive work. We can show that Jesus makes everything we do spiritually valuable.