The Church of STOP!

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Forces in modern culture have combined to make many people both inside and outside the church very busy.  In most families both parents are expected to work.  Children are expected to complete an ever increasing mountain of homework and extracurricular activities, sports, music lessons, etc.  Media vies for our near constant attention.  In the midst of all this we are expected to build relationships and spend time with other people.

Secular culture has dealt with the increased demands marginally better than the church simply by placing some of these activities at times formerly reserved for religion.  Sports games are scheduled on Sunday.   Daily devotion and prayer are replaced by media consumption.

Christians feel the pressure more acutely as we try to meet the expectations of our culture and the expectations of the church.  There are simply not enough hours to accomplish all these tasks and we cycle repeatedly through overwork, failure and guilt. We compare our religious accomplishments with those of the early Christians and find ourselves wanting.  However, the early Christians in the cities of the Roman Empire lived in a culture with more free time than we imagine.  Only men worked, perhaps as little as 20 hours per week and nearly half the days of the year were considered holidays.[1]  Their example indicates that some amount of free time is necessary for the cultivation of a life of faith and for the advancement of the Church.

While we should not abandon culture and must meet some of the expectations it places on us, Christians today must find ways to free up time. We must employ the Biblical remedies to busyness, not as laws but as dynamic practices we choose to structure our lives around.  These remedies include Sabbath, Jubilee, simplicity, fasting, silence and retreat.

Sabbath is perhaps the easiest to implement. Christians should choose a day or other clearly defined period of time in which we regularly do no work.  We should abstain not just from the things we do to earn money, but from anything that feels busy or required.

The rest of these practices can all be understood with respect to simplicity.  Christians should choose to live in a way that does not require nearly so much energy to maintain.  Generally we should choose smaller houses, cheaper or fewer cars, less shopping, etc.  This would result in less need to work for some and in surplus money for others.  Christians should choose to become and remain generally debt free and to help others achieve this goal. We should further revive the practices of fasting in various ways, silence and retreat, which can help balance the effects of media and culture on our lives.

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One thought on “The Church of STOP!

  1. This is so true; making initial small steps to implement simpler living and Sabbath rest brings about a stress-free day in the week, and a more holistic and productive week. Uncluttering our lives along with our mind and spirit we somehow function better and live as we were designed to in the first place. Thanks for this encouraging post.

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