One question that constantly repeats through my mind is “what’s the point?” This question helps me evaluate things in my life and whether it is needed. As a teacher, I ask this to increase the effectiveness of my lesson plans. The more extraneous things I remove from my lesson, the better it becomes. This also works in my life too. For me, asking the purpose of things helps me to see if my activities fit into the greater vision of my life. As a Christian, I have a large and multifaceted vision including loving others, studying God’s word, being involved in church activities and more. At times, though, this vision, great as it is, can be a hindrance to me really walking the Christian walk.
The church of Christ is a busy church with lots of activities and plans. We want to serve God and serve others, and we often give sacrificially, some to the point of burn out. It’s often hard for us to find time for rest because we feel guilty if we stop these activities that mean so much. However, we are in danger of a person-less relationship if we live in this way–we may be living according to a vision, but perhaps that’s not the point.
Jesus Followed a Person, Not a Vision
Jesus did not really live according to a vision. Instead, he chose a person–His Father–to follow and obey. Jesus’s great ministry was not founded upon an idea, but His Father. This point is communicated over and over again in the book of John. When the Jewish leaders were angry at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5: 19 ESV). Jesus waited to see what God was doing, and He joined Him.
We forget that Jesus did not come out of his mother’s womb proclaiming the message of God. He quietly lived with and served his family. It was part of God’s plan, this waiting. I almost wonder if Jesus was impatient to begin. Did he look around and see the need and question when He would be ready to get started? Perhaps though the wait did not have to do with Jesus’s personal readiness. Maybe God was waiting for Jesus’s family to be in a place of sustainability. With Joseph most likely dead, Jesus, as the oldest son, would have been providing for his mother and siblings. They needed Him. And even on the Cross, Jesus made sure to make provisions for her. Jesus was not in such a rush to fulfill His grand purpose that He did not take care of even the more mundane aspects of life.
Missing the Point
Today the church has a great vision, but we’ve forgotten the person. When we do this, we forget what being a follower is about. It is not always about running ourselves ragged for the cause of Christ. It is instead about quietly sitting at the feet of Jesus–to receive love and to receive instructions.
Richard Swenson in his book titled, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time to Overloaded Lives, explains that
We must have room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are starved to death by velocity. No one has time to listen, let alone to love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high speed good intentions. Is God pro-exhaustion? Doesn’t He lead people beside still waters anymore? Who plundered these wide-open spaces of the past, and how can we get them back?
Mary understood this quite clearly. While her sister Martha ran around serving others in the grand vision of taking care of Jesus, Mary sat at his feet and let Him take care of her. When Martha complains,, “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Mary is not one who misses the point; instead, she chooses what is most valuable.
The Point of the Gospel
And this right here is the Gospel–God calls you not to the vision of the Cross, but to the man hanging on the Cross. You are not just to follow principles of truth, you are called to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You cannot just know about Him, you must know Him. And this is done by waiting and listening.
When the calling of our lives starts clamoring in our ears, we need to stop and hear His voice. When we are swept up the busyness of serving God, we must sit quietly at his feet. We must every day be careful to choose the person and not the calling because the calling can change. Just like Jesus–one day he was a dutiful son and brother and the next He was being baptized and sent out. We must focus only on recognizing his voice when he calls. In John 10:4, Jesus says, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
When we do this, it is easy to see the point. The point isn’t to accomplish anything except knowing Him more. When that comes first, the needed margin we need in our lives can be found. We won’t feel guilty for that time of quiet because nothing can be more important than making sure we have ears to hear his voice. And then, when we do this, the world will really see what the point is–it is Him.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash