In just a few short weeks my family will be taking a couple weeks of holidays going to beautiful British Columbia. I am really looking forward to this time of seeing family and friends and just being about to have some time away. It is not that I don't like to work in fact, I love what I do and the people I get to spend time with. It is just that as much as we have been programmed to work, we've also been programmed to rest (see Genesis 1-2). Some times, the resting part comes easy like looking ahead to vacation time or counting down the days until retirement.
But more often than not, working is what comes more readily to us. We like the idea of rest but we feel compelled to work. I don't think it is uncommon for many of us to work 50-60 hours a week without even knowing it (I am guilty of this on occasion). The mentality of society says that we have to keep going, keep keeping up with everyone else around us and the only way to do that is by spending more time working. I would argue that we are being conditioned to work 24/7 especially now that we can carry our work in our pockets wherever we go (who's not guilty of checking a work email just before you crawl into bed?).
Unfortunately, this working mentality has made its way into the church. The most obvious way it presents itself is in the amount of time we have to give to Jesus. Where we once were able to give a couple nights a week to church activities, we are now find it hard to give an hour (and only an hour!) to the Lord on Sunday mornings. The bigger issue might be the mentality of working that has crept into our churches. We have bought into the notion that we always have to be doing something--there's always more work to be done (and in some ways, this is true). But this expresses itself in the push for new programs, new ways of doing the service, always doing something to try to attract more people.
This push to keep doing is leading us all to fatigue. The few that are very active in the church are stretched to capacity while those who are not very active think they can't possible measure up. We have fallen into the trap of a works based religion. We tell ourselves (usually subconsciously) that if we aren't actively sharing/talking about Jesus every minute of every day then we are failing; if we aren't doing all that we can to build/save the church then we are not worthy followers of Jesus
We have fallen into the trap of a works based religion.
But the good news is that is not what the church is supposed to be about! Sure, in Matthew 28 Jesus tells his disciples to Go and make disciples... we always focus on the verbs in that verse which make it sound like the mission is up to us. When we make that our focus we forget that Jesus declared that he has all authority in heaven and on earth and that he will be with us always (in the person of the Holy Spirit pointing us to Christ). It is not up to us to convert the world or to fill the church. It is the Holy Spirit's job to call the world to Christ using His hands and feet- the body of Christ, the church. The assurance is in the power authority of Jesus as expressed in the Spirit who sustains the church and keeps it focused on Jesus Christ.
Instead of striving and working to try to 'save the church' simply listen (which requires we put the work aside for a time). Listen for the voice of God through the Holy Spirit and be ready to move where He leads.
Image: Public Domain: CC0 http://pixabay.com/en/man-person-business-businessman-319286/
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.