Slow down, you move too fast
59th Street Bridge Song
– Simon & Garfunkel
My pastor eyes and ears tell me that something is quite wrong with the world. Not just the world outside and around us, but the world inside and within us. Something is quite wrong with us.
Our hearts are cluttered, crowded, chaotic with the stuff of life. It is difficult to center on one thing when so many different things call for our immediate, even if divided, attention. Each thing promising us another jolt, thrill, rush, fix — yet hardly delivering (or not) before the next “squirrel!”…um…grabs…our…um…
What were we talking about?
Not really. That was just an on-ramp to something I want to say about lifegoals and the old Christian way of life.
We are called to lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. Yet, we tend to make life much harder and more complex than it needs to be.
You are much too busy to lead a peaceful and quiet life. You work eight days a week. Your phone is never off, and neither are you. Your calendar is chock full of lots and lots of really super-important activities and events. The experience of one is pushed aside by the next really super-important activity and event, and so it goes. This is life in the 21st century West. As The Eagles once sang, it’s “Life in the fast lane, Everything all the time.” This is your life. Your suffocating, strangling, soul-crushing life.
Despite all the amusements and entertainments, you are becoming a zombie. This was never your life-goal, and yet here you are — worn out, weighed down, wasting away.
Is there a truer and better way to live?
Yes. In 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12, Paul teaches a church under pressure to walk in the rhythm of the old Christian way of life.
First, he tells what to do; then he tells why to do it. The what is about personal responsibility. The why is about missional integrity.
We urge you, brothers and sisters, to –
1) love one another with increasing, abounding, overflowing love.
2) strive for quiet rest
3) mind your own affairs
4) work, trade, produce with your own hands
as we charged you,
in order that you may walk around in good shape before outsiders and have need of nothing.
These are serious #lifegoals.
Note well that you can reach your lifegoals by walking not running, by calmly taking your time, not frantically rushing round.
As a pastor, I know that some of these life-goals are more challenging than others. Especially the one about striving for quiet rest. For many of you, this one feels like mission impossible; more like wishful thinking than practical reality.
Sure, everyone wants quiet rest, and some might even welcome it if — and only if — it happened to come their way. But almost no one truly strives for quiet rest. Precious few are ambitious for a quiet life. Only a few do whatever it takes to attain shalom. And yet, to this we are called by the triune God in the gospel of grace.
Striving for quiet rest looks like zealously making time for
– morning and/or evening prayer
– a devotional reading of the Holy Scriptures
– conversation with a few friends on a patio
– a home-cooked dinner with your family around a table
– turning off electronic devices and playing a board game
– talking and listening(!) to each other
– sitting quietly and watching the wind blow the clouds, birds flitter among trees, a dragonfly hover over blades of grass
– gathering for worship every Lord’s day (whether you feel like it or not)
– showing mercy, doing some good, helping others in order that they may rest
– taking naps, sitting still, doing nothing!
Why do we resist the Spirit like our stiff-necked forefathers?
If you’re like me, you need some life-goals. Not just any life-goals, but satisfying, strengthening, soul-building life-goals.
Why not start with the life-goals set forth by the Spirit of Christ?
They’re good for you, good for your family, good for your community, good for your neighbor, good for your body and soul.
Cutting-room floor notes from our mini-series on 1 Thessalonians.