Faithfulness and Rest

The other night I was thinking about how often Joe, in his cancer blog, talks about rest. He did that in therapy, too.

Most churchy people go in the other direction — we need to serve more, we need to do more, we need to work harder, we need to virtually ignore our own needs and wants, or attend to them only minimally, and only in order to keep serving and doing and working.

It’s not that Joe encourages laziness or morbid wallowing brooding or unlimited selfishness and self-centeredness.

No — but when Jesus says the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself, Joe says loving yourself is implied by the command, and that it’s a high standard, not a low one.

Be still, and know that I am God — or, alternately, cease striving (Psalm 46:10).

It makes sense that the first greatest commandment — to love God with everything we have and are — comes first. The relationship between the individual and God really does precede, inform, feed the relationship between the individual and others. Worship before service. Yes, service can be — is — a form of worship, but in order for that to be so, worship must be considered higher, a greater priority, than service. The lesser is considered a form of the greater.

I think about the part of Jeremiah 2 where God says that we have first abandoned him, the spring of living water, and hewn our own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Hewing speaks of work — and it’s done apart from relationship. God as living water implies relationship — and no work. Lounging by a spring is good rest. Living water nourishes good works better than hewing broken cisterns — thirsty work — does.

I think about Luke 16:10, the verse about being faithful in little things. This verse has usually condemned me and provoked me to more perfectionism — after all, if I skimp on how well I sew on a button or write a post or anything else, doesn’t that betray that at my core I am slovenly and unfaithful?

But what if being faithful in little things is subversive of the work ethic, the performance mentality; what if it’s more like Psalm 46:10 and Jeremiah 2 — what if it’s more like Mary and Martha?

In Luke 10, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, among the men, listening to him. Martha does the culturally expected thing — she works in the kitchen to prepare food for Jesus and the men. Which sister was faithful?

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6 thoughts on “Faithfulness and Rest

  1. hmmmm…a little stewing over conversation from playgroup…i like the way you explain the worship over service. You always make me think!

  2. Jessica,

    Yeah, the playgroup conversation was stimulating, and made its way into this post. But the idea of faithfulness and rest has been stewing longer than that. I think I mentioned it in a status a few days ago, and just fleshed it out here the other day.

  3. PS. I am slovenly and unfaithful. So is everyone. My faithfulness comes in pursuing and resting in the gracious redemption God has provided, not in trying to be sufficiently faithful to the law.

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