“Don’t let anyone who wants to practice harsh self-denial and worship angels rob you of the prize. They go into detail about what they have seen in visions and have become unjustifiably arrogant by their selfish way of thinking. They don’t stay connected to the head. The head nourishes and supports the whole body through the joints and ligaments, so the body grows with a growth that is from God.” - Colossians 2:18-19, CEB
As we settle into the first week of summer, if you’re like me, you might be longing for a return to normal. Now, what normal is is up for debate. For some, the slowed routine caused by COVID-19 is the same routine they had been following for months, maybe years. For others the slowness has been a grinding hault. And for some, this time has been anything but slow. The slowed pace of life we are experiencing now is beginning to grind on me. Being busy and staying busy provides me with a sense of control. If I jam my schedule with things to be done, there is little time for idleness which means there is little time for things to go wrong.
The busyness I create for myself is my coping mechanism for lack of ability to maintain control.
Church life dictates a large part of my weekly routine. My kids do not care what is on my calendar. They’re more interested in front yard baseball games and backyard pool parties. Viruses do not check our collective calendars to determine the best time to unleash havoc on our collective lives.
Busyness keeps us busy (duh!).
Busyness allows us to pretend injustice does not exist in our lives.
Busyness can be an attempt to control our lives, beyond the scope of what we are truly able to control.
Busyness tricks us into thinking that there is a quick fix when life appears to be out of control.
Busyness invites us to create new gods for ourselves.
Busyness invites us to ignore that in Christ we are closer to God than humanity had ever been before and there is no quick fix, DIY improvement that will give us different results. There is no easy three-step process.
Author and pastor David Zahl refers to this desire for a quick fix, as seculocity. “Yes, you have faith but what about _________?” Zahl contends that in our chase for enoughness, in the eyes of God and the eyes of “them,” we default to moralistic performances (eating, dating, parenting, voting) to find fulfillment and righteousness. We allow worship to of busyness (or control) to replace the enoughness given to us by Christ. St. Paul wrote to the Colossians addressing concerns he had with the church, mainly the influence of philosophy or human tradition on the life of the church. Paul’s critique of ancient philosophical thinking centered on the idea that living a blessed life meant being at peace with creation through moral mediators like wisdom or the law. It had been suggested to the Colossians that if they fell out of peace with creation (ie. Not adhering to moral law) then they would fall in the category of evil/wrong, which would then bring them out of favor with God.
Christianity is not DIY. Busyness for the sake of control is contrary to the work of Jesus Christ. Christianity is discipleship, meaning in following Christ we acknowledge and hold onto Christ’s reconciling work that we, us and them, are unable to accomplish for ourselves. In saying “it is finished” Jesus told the church that everything necessary to be done had been done. There is no lacking in the relationship between God and humanity - nothing else need be done. There is no amount of busyness that can add to the control we think we need. What was required for the best life possible has been done. There is no amount of circumcision, adhering to the law, based on scripture or based on moralism, necessary.
Because of Christ and through Christ our sins have been forgiven. We have been made righteous by Christ’s faithfulness and all that is left to do is to enjoy the extravagance of God’s grace, compassion, and mercy. The control we seek is seated at the right hand of our Creator and in our quest busyness and control, He is with us.