“Doing church” has become so time consuming and draining lately. There are rotas for this and meetings for that. There are meetings for deciding about when we will meet and what we will do when we meet and rotas to cover everything that will need to be done. There are so many things that seem to be needed it becomes hard to prioritise what is really important.
Jesus did tell us that it would not be easy to be Christians in the world (John 16:32). There may be times of persecution, of pain and illness, of loneliness and frustration, times when life is just a bit difficult and everything seems to go wrong for us. We have enough trouble in this life without the church adding to people’s hardship with the demands that we are placing on ourselves and others.
There are always opportunities in the church to serve. This is important and Jesus was our model, not coming to be served but to serve and lay down his life as the ultimate sacrifice. However Jesus also showed us that life is not all about rushing around being busy all the time. In the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10) one sister is sitting down whilst the other is doing all the work. It always surprises me (and I know the story quite well!) that Jesus tells Martha she is “worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening, and was commended for this.
Jesus said that we should come to him when we are weary and he will give us rest. We are to take his yoke on us and learn from him because his burden is easy and his yoke is light (Matthew 11). The mention of the burden and the yoke implies that there is some work to be done – it’s not all about sitting listening and not ever doing! But when the work comes from the Lord there is a sense of easiness, of lightness. It’s not something that weighs us down so much we can hardly move at all!
God also provided us with a Sabbath and whilst we are no longer bound by the Law there are some key principles we could benefit from re-capturing today. J. John seems to be a firm believer in the Sabbath, saying that it is a day to rest the body, recharge the emotions and be renewed spiritually. This is certainly not happening for many of us! A Sunday spent at church is busy and can easily charge our emotions and wind us up rather than being a calm and restful sanctuary!
I can’t help but wonder if there is another way.
At the beginning of the New Year it’s time to reflect and evaluate what we are doing. In order to be the people God has made us to be we need to ask Him what He wants us to do and find our identity and purpose in him. What is my capacity? What are the other commitments in my life? Have I got priorities right?
Serving in the church is important and each of us has a role to play. Perhaps if everyone played their part, the body of Christ would function more effectively and less strain would be felt by some of the parts who have been carrying a greater burden. There needs to be clarity about what God is calling us to do, each church having a clear vision and sense of purpose: what are we there for? What are we as a church doing and why? Does it need to be so complicated?
I am excited about the next KST module for which we will visit different churches to see what we can learn from different models and traditions. Perhaps with some evaluation and consideration of different ways of doing things we will end this year feeling less exhausted but filled with greater joy and love for Christ and his church.