May we be plumbers who read Plato, and in doing so, change the world.
A professor of mine gave this benediction to our class one night, about midway through my freshman year in college. Since that day, the words have gone through my mind on a weekly basis in some form or another. I continue to ponder, isn’t my goal here to do some great and fantastic thing for the kingdom of God? Create some killer app? Make some amazing blog post that makes everybody go “Hot dang that’s a smartie there?” I gotta do something, SOMETHING! Right?!
This benediction tells me otherwise. It is something I’ve kind of known, or at least figured out, pretty early on through my college studies. But there’s this internal drive, this yearning, the pull of our society, that says “Do it all and do it BIG!!! You only get one time round! Who cares who you trample along the way. Shoot, you were trying to better the world as a whole, so it doesn’t matter.” I knew there was something simple, yet profound, about this approach, but I couldn’t quite get it.
My wife and I were invited to take part at a series at our church called Alpha. It is an amazing series for all folks interested in knowing more about who Jesus is. Doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not. There’s a video series, then some discussion, and no question is a bad question and everybody respects everybody. Our particular group has a few folks that have been Christians for a long time a few that have been in the faith for a little while now, having come out of another faith, and a few folks that literally never grew up with any kind of religious background, but were invited and were interested to participate. One of the things our group leader likes to do during discussion time is to ask various questions in the form of “If somebody walks up to you on the street and asks X or says Y to you, how would you respond?” For me, assuming I only have a minute or two with this person, I would want to respond with a pretty simple and “common sense” type answer that would open the door to talking about the issue even more or even dig deeper on the issue at hand.
Oddly enough, I had a very hard time during the first few weeks thinking of a response that didn’t go down some deep theological path or get caught up in big words. At one point I started talking about the difference between Levitical Law and the Law under the New Covenant and started to get the glazed eye look around me. After a few more weeks I was able to rephrase my thoughts and responses into a way that people understood and could relate with. After reflecting upon this a bit more my mind immediately jumped into that old familiar phrase, “may we be plumbers who read Plato, and in doing so, change the world.” It all started to make sense from that moment forward.
It is by the ordinary, every day events in which we can share the divine majesty and intellect with our fellow common man, and thereby pass the light onto another, in which the world can change. This applies to our efforts and deeds as well. Now I need to preface this with the option here that by no means do we “dumb down” or not apply that which we know in this process. Far from it! It is more the approach that profound things can be done by simply giving a homeless man on the street some bread. Or by merely sitting with a person during a period of grief, knowing that God works through these events to even bigger things. It is amazing to think about this in light that Augustine himself credits his conversion to the daily prayers his mother said for him as he continued to live a hedonistic life.
This needs more mental unpacking, but it is a start…How do you see this applying to your life?