The Issue of Busy-ness
This is an interesting topic in the twenty first century Western World. Some of our countries offer generous welfare, originally intended for those who fell on some degree of misfortune, but often used these days as an empowerment not to work.
Most of us will be mindful of the Scripture that says, “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2Th. 3:10). Adding to this we have taught amongst you that it is a privilege to be hired by God and that we should go about our work with enthusiasm. As Paul teaches “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col 3:23).
This is all great. There is no place for laziness or slothfulness in the Kingdom of God. But this is only half the story.
To be busy makes us feel valuable, desired, justified. It signals importance and, therefore, righteousness. Busy is not just how we are but who we are — or who we’d like to be. In balance this is not a bad thing, but on the other side of the coin we can be way too busy and this does reflect a lack of understanding of who God is and what role He wants to play in our lives.
Christians are falling away in the Western world in alarming numbers, and many of those that still are walking with the Lord are claiming they are too tired, or busy to study God’s Word and embrace His ways. I mentioned one of the symptoms of this in last month’s Bulletin – infancy – an inability to mature in one’s faith.
Those who are caught in this trap, fail to develop a healthy Biblical worldview and it is our worldview that shapes the way we see the world and how we respond to it. It is what we lean on to tell us that we’re okay, that our lives matter, and our goals, however self-absorbed, are our rights and that God should be blessing them.
Sadly, this results in many of society’s ills; anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion, and division, that plague people (including believers) to such tragic proportions. I am sure you have all heard about people who are scrambling to be successful enough, happy enough, thin enough, wealthy enough, influential enough, desirable enough, charitable enough, or just plain good enough. We believe instinctively that if we manage to reach some benchmark in our minds, then value, vindication, and love would be ours—that if we got enough, we would be enough.
The bad news for those who stumble here, is that the Kingdom of God just does not work that way. No matter how close we get or how much we achieve, we never quite arrive at enough. (How much money is enough, Mr. Rockefeller? His answer – just a little bit more.) Our fallen nature assures us that there is no threshold. We always need more. Journalist Will Storr writes, “People are suffering and dying under the torture of the fantasy self they’re failing to become.”
However, this does not all have to be bad news. When Jesus told us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matt 6:33), He presented us with a little hidden secret, that is rarely uncovered. If our nature is to never be fulfilled with what we have, Jesus has given us something to constantly pursue, that we can always get more of – it is His Kingdom and His righteousness. In his book The Righteous Mind psychologist Jonathan Haidt says that “an obsession with righteousness . . . is the normal human condition.” He goes on to say that the longing for some form of righteousness is not an aberration perpetuated by capital-R Religion but a foundation of what it means to be human. We cannot shake the spectre of “enoughness”, because it lives in our DNA. This means our only hope is to redeem it, i.e. find a Biblical expression for it.
Fortunately, Jesus provides us with the answer – walking in His ways will not only give us a worthwhile lifetime pursuit – but it will also provide us with peace along the way. Now we can enjoy our longing for more, while we rest in and enjoy what we currently have. This is not available outside of the Kingdom of God – in fact it is an oxy-moron to those who embrace the ways of the world.
Be busy, be fruitful, have a passion for all God has given you to do – but don’t equate busyness with worthiness. Don’t see it as a way to complete you. Only the Holy Spirit can do that for you.
Next month we will have a closer look at the Sabbath.
God bless you,