As much as I am enjoying the summer life, I have to admit that I am also finding it very difficult to not be a total bum. Which makes me think about rest and what it means to rest. And other things, but we’ll get to that later.
I’m convinced that most of us don’t know how to truly rest. We think that as long as we aren’t doing whatever our ‘work’ is — homework, office stuff, whatever — we are resting. Watching TV, sleeping, lazing around… We talk about these things as though they are the definition of rest, like, “I’m watching TV = I’m resting!”. Not true.
Real rest is intentional. It isn’t what happens when we are unproductive. Real rest ought to be productive, the product being rest, duh.
Okay, it’s late and my eyes have been blinded from watching awesome lightning in the sky.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about: What do I spend my time doing? Why do I watch the TV shows that I’ve been watching? If Jesus came back right now, would I be ashamed at how I am using my time? Would I feel like I’d been caught red-handed?
I think of the advice given to not listen to certain kinds of music, to be careful what kind of movies you watch, etc. I think of the many good reasons people have argued that Christians should stay away from secular entertainment that praises ungodly values. I think of the many good reasons many Christians don’t stay away from those things – the need to have common ground with non-believers, to be “in but not of this world.” I think of the many of us – the majority, I believe – who lie in between.
I don’t have the answers, and I think personal convictions do exist – someone might feel convicted that they shouldn’t watch certain shows, and for that person, to do otherwise would be to disobey God. Someone else might not have been given that conviction and keeps watching those shows with a clear conscience. But I do believe that there are general principles we all, as Christians, are called to live by. “Be holy as I am holy,” for example (1 Peter 1:16). “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). And so on. What does that mean in practice, though? What implications does that have on how I choose to spend my time?
I realize this post is jumping around a lot. Here’s the link between my thoughts about rest and my questions about honouring God. A lot of times, I find myself thinking that living the Christian life is tiring. It’s like an endless battle – against sin, against the dark forces not of this world, etc. It’s like we have to constantly be on the lookout because once we ‘relax’, we’ll fall prey to some kind of sin. We could talk about Christianity and rules, but I’ve already done that here. My point tonight is this – if I were to say to someone that I don’t think I should be watching a given TV show because I don’t think it helps me to honour God to the best of my abilities, chances are I’ll get a response something to the effect of, “God knows you need to rest/relax too.” Meaning, “Maybe you should stop thinking so hard. Cut yourself some slack.” I tell that to myself all the time. “I should probably be doing something a little more constructive, but ah, I just need a break.”
Here’s what I think we’ve got to think about: what exactly do we think we’re taking a break from? Is there any good that we foresee coming out of it? Do we go into it with such intended good in mind or do we have ourselves in mind? We’re asked to deny ourselves. Daily. It was never about us, we haven’t ‘earned’ any reward ‘cos it was all grace to begin with.
I’m being incoherent because I’m tired, but I think it all goes back to the idea of freedom. Real freedom happens when we joyfully and willingly choose to do things that benefit us eternally. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fakes out there. Fake freedom happens when we joyfully and willingly choose to do things that ultimately eat away our souls. Yeah, we have the free will to choose, but it’s not freedom if our desires lead us to choose destruction.
You know, something like that. Sleep.