Two or More Responses to being Busy

I wonder if when people hear or read me go on and on about busyness, if I’m blaming them for their busyness or worse, condemning them.  My friends say I have that effect on people which is what ultimately why I was offered a job as a pastor (I hope you know sarcasm when you read it).  I think I have many reasons for trying to explore this phenomenon, one of which is to point out how ridiculous the psychology behind it can be sometimes, but not to pronounce a blanket condemnation.

In all seriousness though, I struggle with the whole condition of being busy because I’m not really sure what to make of it as a follower of Jesus.  Here are the two possible Christian responses that I can offer.  I feel like they’re mutually exclusive, but maybe I’m not thinking hard enough.

1.  Being busy is just a fact.  We can whine and complain about it, but when we finally peek out of our own lives, we realize the painful fact that there is nothing special about us…all are busy and have fallen short of the glory of God.  But as busy Christians, we need to ask ourselves:  How are we to be genuine imitators of Jesus in the midst of this hectic lifestyle?  How do we experience fruitfulness in the midst of our busyness?  How do we be true to our first love?  These are serious questions.  Just because we are busy does not mean that all of a sudden we can relegate Jesus to the sidelines of our lives.  The Christian life was not designed only for those with 9-5 jobs, no ambition, and plenty of vacation.  Not only that, just because we have crazy lives doesn’t mean that somehow we are exempt from God’s promises.

The reality is that Jesus cannot be just an add-on to lives; he cannot be just another voice tugging at us, begging for attention.  We will surely feel as if his burden is a heavy yoke and eventually either cut him loose or stagger under the weight of guilt and tiredness.

Or maybe we can ask the question another way:  How do we reconcile the fact of the Incarnation with the fact of our busy society and our bee-ish role within it?  How do we allow the living Jesus to enter into the multi-tasked fabric of our lives?  Or, if you’re into bracelets:  WWJD?

2.  The Gospel of the Kingdom confronts the patterns and powers of the world and our complicity within the system.  For this very reason, Sabbath-keeping–being an act of scheduled, planned, intentional rest–is also an act of protest.  The world is busy, but busy after what?  Busy after goods, gold, gratification, grandeur, and gods…so busy that we forgot about what is lost and who is forgotten along the way…or so busy protecting what we have and who we have it for that we shut ourselves off from the plain but grand reality of being human. 

Jesus enters the scene:  If you do not love me more than… He who does not hate his… is not worthy to be my disciple.  For even sinners are busy as hell.  Therefore, do not conform yourself any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed.  Come…and you will find rest for your souls.

What if it is subversive to:  read fiction, go gardening, have long talks with friends, stop work when the sun set, listen to the stories of old people, read an entire book or epistle in the Bible in one sitting, take walks, cook real food, say hi to our neighbors, take care of our parents, pray without a clock, go to church without a watch, wait in line with the poor, to slow down enough to notice God in the foregrounds and backgrounds of life…and then to follow him when we see him.

Let me put it more bluntly:  What if it is idolatrous for a follower of Jesus to be busy?  What if being busy is being sinful?  Certainly not in a Ten Commandments way, but maybe in a loving-the-world-more-than-God way?

How do we live as Christians with respect to the pattern of busy lives?  These are thoughts, not yet conclusions.  I have grown tired of mere insight without new life, though, so I’d appreciate your contributions.

4 thoughts on “Two or More Responses to being Busy”

  1. “What if it is subversive to: read fiction, go gardening, have long talks with friends, stop work when the sun set, listen to the stories of old people, read an entire book or epistle in the Bible in one sitting, take walks, cook real food, say hi to our neighbors…The Christian life was not designed only for those with 9-5 jobs, no ambition, and plenty of vacation.”you are a great influencer. i am now convinced that not only am i subversive, i am also perfectly designed to lead the Christian life!

  2. I think the problem is that believers these days lack taste. Do you ever go to a Chinese buffet and see some white-bread family settle down with mounds of sweet-and-sour chicken, heaps of over-seasoned broccoli beef, and masses of greasy fried rice? God bless that family, because they’re the ones subsidizing the Chinese people who assemble platter after platter of just seafood. But I digress. My point is that if you lack taste, you are going to fill your plate with things that do nothing but kill your tastebuds and give you heartburn. If you live without a meaningful aesthetic, you’ll never decline unimportant things, and never have time for important things.Remember back in the day, when I realized that of all the believers I knew, none of them got engaged without a diamond ring? Now I do not fault any single person for his choice to get a diamond — ethics can be relative, and in the right situation I’d get one too — but I was discouraged by the pattern. I was discouraged that no one bucked the expectations of the middle class well-to-do, that no couple had developed a palate for something different. I was sorely disappointed that our supposedly radical faith had no effect on our cultural tastes, not even for just two people. I thought to myself that somewhere, there must be people who feel deeply differently about life, but not here, not yet, not quite.I have no illusions about my faults; a community of people just like me would be, no doubt, quite miserable. But this is what I think. The aesthetics that we would do better to cultivate, to bridge the gap between faith and life are as follows. (1) Loving the entertainment of guests. (2) Loving stories. (3) Loving detail. (4) Loving economy. (4a) Loving poetry. (5) Loving learning. (6) Loving stillness. (7) Loving courage.

  3. seriously. i can’t find satisfaction in being busy OR being lazy. and i loathe the still, small voice within that tells me to find satisfaction in Him instead because He seems boring compared to the glitz of the world. but so far, every time i’ve come, i have not been disappointed.

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