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Busyness is NOT next to Godliness!

Regular consumers of my humble ramblings know that I love to use song lyrics as a springboard to spiritual meditations. A song from the country group Alabama hit home during a hectic week.

I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.
It seems those lyrics describe the norm for many of us. Especially the life’s no fun part when we are crazy busy. Slowing down was a big part of my motivation in writing Waking Up Slowly. Here is an excerpt about the danger of busyness from the book.

Letting our busyness get in the way of our relationship with God shows how out of balance we let our schedules become. Nowhere in Scripture will you find this command.

Be busy and know that I am God.

Our busyness does not please God. Our faith pleases Him. And we can’t have faith and trust in someone we are too busy to know. David wrote this timeless truth in Psalm 46.

Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Mark Buchanan puts this into great perspective. “One of the most convicting things I have recently come to realize about Jesus is that He was never, not once, in a hurry.”

Jesus didn’t hurry to the side of Lazarus when He got word that his dear friend was sick. He didn’t feel the need to drive himself to exhaustion to answer questions, teach and preach.

Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. (Matthew 13:36)

It is instructive that Jesus withdrew from the crowd (and the obligation most of us would have felt) to teach His disciples. The most important thing for Jesus was to prepare His disciples and not to “friend” several hundred people on FaceScroll. Clearly it was valuable for Jesus to be teaching the crowds. But His relationship to His ministry “family” trumped the public gathering priority.

Jesus gave us another example of priorities with time.

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. (Mark 6:45-46)

Jesus understood that He must say no to people who really wanted His attention in order to spend time where it mattered most. This passage follows the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. I would have hung around for hours to soak up the praise and accolades. But Jesus knew what He needed in that moment. Time with the Father.

These passages are instructive. We need to know when to say no. I don’t think that these verses are in Scripture as filler. Busyness does not define worth and being a schedule martyr does not make you more godly.

My personal belief is that one of the biggest and most damaging mistakes that the church makes with new believers is not teaching clearly and continually what happens when you put your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It seems that we too often get young Christians immediately into studies and activities.  We subtly (or in my own experience, not so subtly) program them to believe that growth is about doing more right things. That righteousness somehow requires busyness for Jesus. We imply that change can only happen when you are trying hard and being disciplined for God. The truth is that a dramatic change has already happened when you make that faith commitment to follow Jesus. Let’s just hit the highlights.

  • Scripture tells you that you now have a new identity.
  • You are literally a new creation.
  • You have imputed righteousness of Christ.

That is a nice theological term that simply means that God sees you as righteous because of your relationship with Jesus. That’s it. Nothing you have done or ever will do earns that righteousness. It is a gift of grace.

You are changed completely when you trust Christ. The trick is living out of that truth. I don’t have to grit my teeth, try harder, and be more busy to win favor and please Him. When I trust Him and let God love me I will please Him. My faith and trust is what pleases Him according to God’s Word.

So let’s disabuse ourselves today of the notion that busyness is somehow related to godliness. Follow the example of Jesus and prioritize your schedule for quiet time with God and quality time with the most important people in your life. Life just might become a little more fun!

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