Blessedness, not Busy-ness
How many of us here like to be busy? How many of us feel a need to be busy? Think about that for a moment. When people ask me how things are going, I will often fall back on a default answer of “Good. Busy! But good.” The assumption underlying that reply, for me, is that if I’m not busy I’m doing something wrong. Being busy is often equated with being productive; and being productive in our society is usually equated with being worthwhile or valuable. Therefore, being busy is a sort of code for “I’m pulling my weight” or “I matter,” “I’m worthy.”
But, is it?
Is being busy the pinnacle of our experience? Do we live our lives in order to be busy? Sometimes – many times – we are frustrated with how busy we might be, and we long to get out from under the mountain of work that vexes us. However, if I were to tell you that I relaxed around the house all day, secretly, people would judge me as lazy. They could be right; but why is doing nothing seen as bad but being occupied and otherwise unavailable seen as good? Is this what we truly believe?
I read an author who wrote about all the busy-ness that seems to captivate us in our society. He called it being trapped in a “bubble” that is a result of “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” “This bubble is being enabled,” he wrote, “by an unholy alliance between three powerful trends: smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload. We are more aware than at any time in history of what everyone else is doing and, therefore, what we ‘should’ be doing. In the process, we have been sold a bill of goods: that success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done. Of course, we back-door-brag about being busy: it’s code for being successful and important.”
But does Jesus call us to be busy? Does He even call us to be successful? Consider His great Beatitudes. To what does Jesus call us? Blessedness. Not busy-ness; not success; but blessedness. Shoot – His own experience in ministry certainly didn’t look successful – and He really made no effort to make it look that way. In His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He came, as Zechariah notes, humbly, “meek and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.”
In the midst of our summer “down time,” Jesus returns to us and invites us to rest – to set aside the busy-ness of our lives – to set aside the temptations to “do stuff” – and to look to Him as our example. “Come to me,” He says, “all you who labor and are burdened” (all you who are caught in that relentless pursuit of “more,” who feel that pressure to “be busy”) “and I will give you rest.” Jesus wants us to learn from Him – and He certainly cannot be accused of never being busy. But He also knew what rest was -and He knew why rest is important. Rest allows us to recharge and to renew our focus. It allows us to let God hold us and to trust Him – just like the little ones.
Today, as we celebrate the Fourth of July weekend (one of the high points of the summer vacation season), we should learn this lesson of rest. Rest is what reminds us of what true freedom is. No one is directing us; no one is forcing us to do anything; no one is burdening our lives with unrealistic expectations of being busy and therefore important. Instead, we are invited to be meek and humble of heart, to appreciate the real freedom that was won, not by any “founding fathers,” but by Jesus Himself. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” This freedom is more than an absence of constraints or the ability to do whatever we want. Rather, it is the freedom to do the good that we are called to do: to live by the Spirit and to put to death the deeds of the body (and the expectations of the world) and to live.
This week – this summer – please take time to rest; and to use that rest well – to learn a lesson from Christ, that we are meant for blessedness and to rest in Him. There will always to stuff to do, busy-ness to engage; but the rest that Jesus promises is itself an eternal gift