Part 2: The Laziness Antidote

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This is the second post (of five) on rest. In the first post, we drew a rough outline of what rest is not.

In the next post we will explore a new understanding of the relationship between rest, work, and our identity as Christ followers. In the fourth post the challenges of spiritual warfare and rest are discussed. Finally, in the fifth post, there is a bit of talk about how we can build a strong work ethic from a strong rest ethic.

The Laziness Antidote

Perhaps one of the most conflicting points in any discussion about work and rest is understanding the difference between rest vs. laziness and work vs. busyness. Like rest, laziness is a condition of the heart; though they are entire unalike. Rather, Biblical Rest is the only true antidote of laziness.

Laziness is a posture towards God and the world that is rooted in self-centeredness and apathy. Rest is a posture before God that is rooted in humble dependence, constant adoration, and joyful obedience. The truly lazy care nothing for the world’s troubles, or the plight of their neighbor – they care only for their own comforts, their own prerogative, and their own agenda. The truly lazy turn off their God-given ‘ears to hear’ the brokenness and need around them. They are far more content in their bubble, moving through life rather unaware of the genuine condition of themselves or the world around them.

Where laziness exists on the basis of being unaware, rest exists on the basis of being fully aware. In a state of laziness even the glories of the Almighty could not move a heart to action; in a state of rest even the faintest glimpse of Majesty stirs us to action.

Like the relatives of the wealthy man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” And indeed, Someone has risen from the dead, and yet many churches are filled each week with people unconcerned for their neighbors or the brokenness of our world! There is truly a problem of laziness in the church – but not because of those who Rest.

Similarly, busyness is a by-product of an unfocused or inattentive heart; work is the result of a rested soul. Busyness anxiously attempts to fill the silence between episodes of self-validation; work confidently mounts on the firm foundation of a clear identity and aligned posture before God. Busyness is an end in itself; work ends with glory to God.

It is important to note that the difference between rest vs. laziness and work vs. busyness has little to do with a daily agenda or hours clocked. It is not about the amount that is produced or accomplished; it is about the condition of the heart and a certain posturing toward God. In this way we lose the cheap judgment of appearances, and as a community we are called to press in deeper, looking to the Spirit to reveal the heart of each person to the community for mutual encouragement and accountability.

Our initial conditions

If I can get nerdy for a minute, ‘initial conditions’ are a set of values assigned in mathematics (particularly differential equations) that define how the physical system of equations evolves. What it means is: change the initial conditions, change the outcome. In fact, mathematically speaking, changing the initial conditions changes more than just the outcome – it alters the entire environment (range, or bounds) in which the equation is allowed to exist as true.

For the Christian, our initial conditions – the thing that is true before we do anything – determines the type of outcome we get, no matter what we do. In the manuscript I write:

God’s love doesn’t exist in a form that is separate from transformation, and therefore God’s Kingdom doesn’t exist in a form that is separate from mission.

When we experience the love of God, we are at once found in the safety of his fold and sent out as sheep among wolves. We are simultaneously at rest and on mission. The two are not Biblically divorced – they coexist without competition, in harmony as one strand of the same reality.

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I think he really means it. And I don’t think he meant it as a ‘last resort’ position, after we’ve flown the white flag of surrender. In fact, if the Beatitudes are any indication of how we should come to Jesus, then it seems we are all weary and heavy laden at the moment of salvation – and perhaps this is what Jesus is referencing here. To Jesus, coming to him to find rest is the initial condition of a life of mission. In the manuscript, on the chapter about Rest + Work (which most of this series is taken from), I write:

We are called to find refuge in God before we are called to be on mission for God. In fact, we cannot be on God’s mission if we are not in God’s refuge. The primary call on our lives is not to busyness but to rest.

Jesus is the one who gives us rest. Period. Most of us want our ministry to be about Jesus. We want the outcomes to glorify God. In every diverse way we serve, we want to move those who are far from God to be nearer to God. If this is true for you (and I hope it is), then the only conclusion is that we begin and end from a place of rest. Not a place of work.

Because the only way to begin ministry with Jesus is to obey his invitation in Matthew 11 and rest in Jesus.

Read the next post.

 

 

 

K Livingston
K Livingston
I believe in dreaming big, working hard, cheering loud, standing tall, bowing deep. All of it because I believe Jesus = life.
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