The soulish are second to none in the matter of works. They are most active, zealous and willing. But they do not labor because they have received God’s order, they labor instead because they have zeal and capacity so to do. They believe doing God’s work is good enough, unaware that only the labor of God’s appointment is truly commendable.
- Watchman Nee (The Spiritual Man, Vol. 1)
And so goes my struggles! The idolatry of “doing”.
Julie is driving and we’re being transported from hospitality to productivity (south to north) in a hunk of metal on wheels propelled by liquid that is extracted from below the surface of the Earth and injected into a plethora of parts designed to interdependently function as a vehicle to speed up time and allow us to pack more stuff into a life that is too short anyway. If you add up all the time that has been spent on building highways, designing engines, molding parts, and making money to fund all of this, has humanity really saved any time?
The idolatry of doing more is an ugly monster indeed.
This issue is especially sensitive to me this year as we are taking a new direction in life: selling our house and buying another, almost completely rebuilding our relational community, having a new baby and finishing a master’s degree. I have felt a little bit like the very vehicle in which I sit, being used up to get from one place to another. Poured out to speed up time and reach a goal. That was the life of Christ, you know. His was one of tremendous stress and activity. That’s why so many times in scripture He would intentionally separate Himself. He was somehow able to live in the truth that it didn’t matter if His disciples thought he was lazy or if the religious tribes felt that He was neglecting the idol of a “do more” spirituality. He simply knew that, for whatever reason, His Father built into the DNA of creation a shabot (Sabbath).
Sabbath does not mean we do less. I don’t think anyone reading this could honestly say that they are more productive than Christ, in His brief three year career of serving the Kingdom of God. No, indeed, it does not mean doing less. Instead it means doing less of the wrong things, which inherently means doing more of the right things. The greatest challenge is knowing the difference. Whether I’m praying and studying scripture or watching “WEST WING” and eating chips, I’m doing the same number of things. It is up to me to do the “right” things. God wants me to be a productive member of the Kingdom of God or else I would have passed into the afterlife long ago. So what is it that He wants me to do… today? The scriptures say it like this, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He prepared in advance for us to do.”
So off we blast in our hunk of metal to visit family that we may never see again and do a few fun things that will look like laziness to an idolatrous member of the religious tribe of which I subscribe. And all this in the middle of a year in which Julie and I strategically decided against vacationing (the first of these in at least 5 years by the way). We chose to ride the rocket of the “busy” god, but someone had a different plan. A week to get away and not have to worry about the pursuit of education or ministry or bills or house sales and purchases. An assigned break from the “work of God”… imagine that.
I think I’ll just enjoy it.
So, today I’m going to go peer in on the lives of a few Amish pilgrims, Sunday I’m going to go visit one of my favorite communicators and in beween I think I’ll take a nap under the willow tree and eat raspberries from my kids great-grandparents’ garden. If that’s ok with you (there I go again)…
An assigned vacation indeed.
“only the labor of God’s appointment is truly commendable.”
Just a thought…