Maintenance and the Kingdom of God

If there’s one thing that continually bothers about this life, it can be summed up in the word “maintenance”. There isn’t a single thing on this earth that doesn’t ultimately fail. Nothing is new under the sun, and nothing stays new under the sun. As soon as you drive a car off the lot, it’s value plummets because it is no longer in its perfect, original state. Now, it requires maintenance.

I’m a fairly Type A person, and it bothers me when things are not in some semblance of order. The constant requirement of maintenance for every single thing around us — including ourselves — is endlessly frustrating. “I just got this thing, why is broken already?” is a constant mantra in my head. Nothing is ever in a state of “completion”. There’s always something that breaks, something that gets misaligned, something that is not operating as it ought.

Think for a moment about all the things that are hanging over your head even right now that need maintenance because they are failing or broken.

Just as I think through my past week:

  • my dryer broke
  • the posts on my front porch are almost rotted through
  • the window into my downstairs bathroom is leaking
  • the faucet on my upstairs bathroom is loose

That’s just a couple of items off the top of my head, and those are only things related to my home. This doesn’t even begin to include the maintenance of daily life for as people. My daughter’s diaper always needs to be changed, and she always needs to be fed. My wife & I are often retracing our steps to see where we may have had a miscommunication. I’m always reiterating vision & goals to employees to help them stay on course.

And next week it will be a different set of items. And eventually it will be these same items again.

We never reach a final state where things won’t need to be done anymore. There’s never a point of rest, a point of  completion. There’s always continued maintenance. Our bodies fail, our minds fail, and even routine maintenance on those things only serves to reset the timer until they need to be re-aligned yet again.

How much of our days are spent “maintaining”? As an artist, it’s disheartening for me to know that most of my time is simply spent keeping things from falling apart when I’d rather be creating new things. Yet, often, even our times of creating are done in an effort to make maintenance more possible: we invent new medicines to keep our bodies operational; we construct computers and software to keep processes running correctly; we build new buildings when the old ones become impossible to keep up any longer.

This should be a frustrating prospect for those of us living in a fallen, broken world. Sin means that everything that was right with the world is now wrong, and is crumbling at one speed or another.

Our original mandate to work and keep the garden (Genesis 2:15) is perverted when sin enters the world, and maintenance becomes an awful chore instead of a joyful time of communion with God. Instead of seeing things flourish under our maintenance as intended, we strive in frustration just to keep them functional.

Despite my frustration with maintenance, it continually reminds me of one thing: Jesus is constantly and consistently maintaining and keeping me. And not only me, but in fact, everything. Colossians 1:16-17 tells us,

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus shows us what maintenance for the Kingdom of God truly looks like. He lovingly creates and maintains because we are His prized possession. He calls us “to work and to keep” and then shows us a better example of it. He prays that God would keep us in His Name (John 17:11), because God’s pinnacle of creation is dear to Him and deeply loved.

This means that as I go about my day and see my body, my possessions, and everything else around me slowly deteriorating, I should be reminded of His goodness in keeping me and holding everything together. He does not tire of maintaining and keeping. He does not grow weary, and when we do, we are called to go to Him, for He does it easily.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

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