“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
Perhaps nobody lived a busier life than Jesus did during His three or so years of earthly ministry. As I read the gospel accounts of His life, I am often overwhelmed just by the sheer numbers of people who seem to be crowding around Jesus no matter where He goes. The crowds were so bustling and the ministry so demanding that at times we are told Jesus and His disciples did not even have time to eat!
Busyness is something nearly every Christian in America can understand. We are purported to be the busiest people on earth. I realized this when working for the General Electric Company several years ago. Part of my job was to purchase materials from suppliers in Brazil, Austria, and the Far East. With the exception of China, working with those in other countries revealed that the pace is far more laid back and stress-free in other countries. It’s not that they do not work hard in Austria. No, that’s not it at all. Rather, it’s just that they are not workaholics. They are not consumed by the American dream, and do not seem to be so enslaved by their employers’ demands.
Friends, busyness is killing our homes, not to mention the detrimental affect on our churches. Just last week I heard yet another Christian appeal to the ever-familiar American idol of busyness to excuse away the lack of involvement in the church and her ministries. How many times have you heard it? How many times have you used this excuse?
Why do many churches today only have one corporate gathering per week? Why is finding a nursery worker like pulling eye-teeth? Why does nobody come to weekly visitation? Why are Saturday prayer-walks attended by only a handful? Why are parents not teaching the Bible consistently to their children? Why no family worship?
While there are many answers to these questions, perhaps they can all be summarized with one word – busyness. Christians are bowing down to this idol like never before. It controls our hearts routinely. The scenario described to me recently by a concerned grandmother says it well. This lady thanked me for continuing to challenge young parents to teach the Bible and worship together as families. But then she began to lament (and I paraphrase):
By the time Frank and Ilene (not the real names) both get home from work, manage to get some supper on the table, get the kids in the bath, teeth brushed, and jammies on, then off to bed, they are absolutely exhausted. Frank and Ilene end up crashing in bed themselves from sheer mind-numbing tiredness, only to awake 7 hours later to begin the whole routine yet again.
Frank and Ilene are caught in the vicious American cycle. No time for family worship. No time or energy for Bible teaching, much less for serving their community through the ministries of the church. They stumble through life exhausted. Bowing down, perhaps somewhat unwittingly, to the idol of busyness. Meanwhile, their home suffers spiritually. Their marriage is merely routine. They do, however, manage to bounce into church every Sunday morning smiling from ear to ear, and dressed to the nines.
But, come Monday morning, it will not be the kingdom of God and His righteousness they seek. No, busyness will once again be in the driver’s seat. Friends, hard work is commendable, and even commanded by God. But, we in America have completely lost the ability to know where to draw lines. Workaholism is a monumental American idol in Christian homes today. And why?
More on that in the next post . . .
For now, contemplate how it was that Jesus was so busy, yet we know He never wasted a second, still found time to rest, and never needed to appeal to “busyness” as a way out of doing His Father’s will.