This may sound like the start of a bad joke, but these, among so many other accessories out there, are material things that we use to paint over the cracks in our lives; to present ourselves in a certain way. It’s our way of saying, ‘I’m rich’, ‘I’m glamorous’, ‘I’m young’.
But we as Christians already know this. It’s ingrained in us from a young age that materialism = bad. What I want to talk about today is something far more subtle. The Ferrari of the Christian world, if you will. The badge that we like to put on and wear with pride.
I have heard the following exchange countless times: ‘Hey! How are you?’ ‘I’m great thanks, been really busy at the moment…’
Have you ever wondered why busyness is often one of the first things we mention? I used to think that busyness was one of those ‘side issues’, something that is important to keep a check of now and again, but in no way requires all our fight and attention, like poverty or injustice, for example. I now wonder if it isn’t one of the biggest problems facing the western Church.
Busyness is not just having a full calendar. It’s this whole culture. Our brains take in more information than ever before; we are constantly bombarded by lights, sounds and adverts. Global news means that we hear about every disaster that happens, and our brains constantly keep on top of this. Greater ability to travel means that we have friends spread all over the country and the world, and social media means we hold all of them in our heads. Technology means we never have to be without stimulation; we can always be playing a game or watching a program. We’re working longer hours, we’re under more financial pressure, we’re spammed in our emails, through our doors. Everything is screaming for our attention, silence is either an unattainable luxury or a state reserved for monks.
And we love it. Busyness is a badge we wear with pride. When we say we’re busy, we mean, ‘I’m needed’, ‘I’m important’, ‘I’m a success’.
But what I want to say is this: if everything productive in our lives fell away and we did nothing all day, would we feel content? Would we know who we are?
I think busyness can be toxic. In the Church, it can be our way of saying: ‘The amount God can do depends on the amount we do.’ We have burnt-out pastors and congregations to match, but forget to stop, breathe, and pray. To give control to God. To know that saving the world is not down to us. Sure, we are supposed to do our bit, but God is not dependent on us being frantic. In fact, I wonder if we’d see more of the Spirit move if we stepped back and spent more of our time seeking him, giving over control.
The Western world is a constant stream of noise and pressure, but imagine what it would be like if the Church was a place of peace and contentment. It would look different, it would stand out. To be honest, that’s a Church I’d want to be a part of.