I’ve heard this phrase a few times recently. Enough to notice. It’s stuck in my head because it seems to sum up modern life and the reality of it for lots of people.
‘Same ****, different day’. For those who’ve not heard the phrase, the second word is a letter longer than hit and is in common use to describe things that are a bit rubbish. It reveals a pretty fatalistic view of life – that it’s mostly something to endure and that there’s no point expecting anything else.
It’s a cynical sentiment that speaks of world weariness – that says we know enough, we’ve heard it all before – there will be empty promises and soundbites but fundamentally things will stay the same and it’s not very good. The answer is to smell the coffee, lower your expectations and get by. Get by to the next weekend, the next holiday and hope for something miraculous like a lottery win to lift you out of all this.
Pretty miserable eh? Miserable but at least honest. And this sort of worldview protects you from the disappointment of thinking there may be something better. Just accept it and crack on.
A friend of mine recently pulled me up on the assumption that if you don’t have faith, you don’t have meaning in life. He was right and I was wrong, it was a lazy, arrogant assumption. It is dangerous to assume and generalise and it is true that people can find purpose in life without faith.
And yet, this phrase has struck a nerve with me because I think it sums up something commonplace in modern society that demonstrates that it is lacking all that it could have.
My family have just had a lovely holiday in Croatia. Getting back to reality was hard. My first week back at work was busy and tiring. As I was leaving on Friday, a colleague asked about my holiday. I told him we’d had a great time. ‘You’re supposed to say it’s like you’ve never been away’ he smiled. We’ve all heard that enough times from returning colleagues. I told him that if life was miserable for 47 weeks a year, something was wrong. Holidays are great but if day to day life is rubbish, they won’t help much, they’re just a temporary respite.
I want a life where I am not clinging on for the next weekend or holiday. I want more than a life of resignation and cynicism. It is God’s daily presence in my life that makes this possible. It is God’s spirit that can bring hope, creativity and strength into the ordinary to enable it to be more than ordinary.
This is what I believe Jesus came to offer – the kingdom of heaven. This isn’t about just about security for when we die but a new way of life now. Sadly though, in the church we have too often given the impression that a life with Jesus is not one that is enriched but one that is diminished – a life of religiosity and rules with all the fun stripped out.
A friend posted a link to a fascinating article about Trump and the American Church recently (1). The article deals with the baffling reality that Trump is wildly popular with American Christians, this despite a life that appears to have paid scant regard to Christian values and a Presidency which regularly fails to demonstrate the character of a Biblical Christian.
Why is he popular? Because he champions causes such as abortion restrictions. For some people this is what faith is – not a lifestyle characterised by love but a series of (usually negative) positions on moral issues.
This is a version of faith that is rule based, judgemental, superior and isolationist and which seeks to impose that as a burdens on others.
That reminds me of something. It reminds me of the faith of the legalistic Pharisees in Jesus’ time, who he came to overthrow. This is the Jesus that ate and drank with sinners. The Jesus that made clear that God was available to everyone not just the respectable.
Jesus modelled a faith, which is positive, which encompasses everything not just a list of moral do’s and don’ts. This is not a faith of imposition, by taking and exercising power but of invitation to every last person, whatever has gone before.
It’s an offer of grace – the undeserved initiative of a God who seeks us out rather than waiting for us to find him with a sorted life. And to be clear, this is not what is sometimes called cheap grace. The invitation is not to do what you want and ask God to bless it, this is not God tacked on.
God has better for us. Better than a life of ‘same ****, different day’. Better than a life of drudgery and religion, of failing to measure up to a set of rules.
Jesus offers us nothing less than himself – of life where we learn from him how to do life as we go along:
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28, (The Message)
This is life as it was made to be, life the right way up led by the God who made us, loves us and knows us better than anyone else, including ourselves.