A while back, I wrote about never-ending to-do lists, and how there will never be a day in this life when everything will be or feel finished. I mentioned that I haven’t quite figured out how to cope with this, except perhaps to allow that tension to fuel my desire for heaven.
Recently I’ve been reading the book Crazy Busy by Pastor Kevin DeYoung. I ran across a paragraph that really hit home and got me thinking about busyness in a whole new way.
DeYoung talks about how Jesus, too, was a very busy man. Maybe he didn’t have kids to take care of and a house to clean, but he did have a few things vying for his time and attention. Like, for instance, every sick and hurting person in need of healing wherever he was, the thousands of followers who awaited his teaching every day and the other large group of people who wanted him dead.
You could say Jesus had a pretty long potential to-do list, and every reason to keep going and going without ever stopping. How could he possibly take a break when there were always more people to heal and more truth to teach? But even Jesus knew he couldn’t just keep going, keep doing, keep meeting other people’s needs, without taking time away.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ And he said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.’” (Mark 1:35-38)
DeYoung notes how amazing it is not only that Jesus takes time away, but also that when the disciples come looking for him, he says simply, “Let us go somewhere else.” He doesn’t run down to the people who have been looking for him, many of whom are probably in need of healing. He says, “Let’s keep going so I can preach elsewhere, because that’s why I’m here.”
DeYoung puts it this way:
“Jesus understood his mission. He was not driven by the needs of others, though he often stopped to help hurting people. He was not driven by the approval of others, though he cared deeply for the lost and the broken. Ultimately, Jesus was driven by the Spirit. He was driven by his God-given mission. He knew his priorities and did not let the many temptations of a busy life deter him from his task.” (Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung)
Jesus was on mission. He knew why he was here, and while part of his mission was to help people, he didn’t get sidetracked from his mission by the expectations of others. He knew what his purpose was, and he kept that at the top of his to-do list, always. He didn’t do things because other people expected things of him; he did things because he was called to do certain things, and because he was driven by the Holy Spirit.
Now, obviously our mission as Christians is not quite as clear-cut as Jesus’ was. But we can, however, know what our priorities and general mission should be as believers and followers of Christ. And this can and should color everything we do.
This week in Sunday school, we talked about what our mission as disciples of Christ is. And while these verses certainly aren’t exhaustive, I think they are a great summary of how we are called to live.
The first passage is what we call The Great Commission, which Jesus gave to his original disciples before he left them for the last time.
“’Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
And what has Jesus commanded us? This is how he answers the Pharisees:
“And one of the scribes…asked him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, Hear O Isreal: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
We may have specific callings on our lives, but above all else, we are called to bring people to Jesus, to teach each other his ways, to love him and to love one another. These should be our priorities, and everything else should come second. If anything is distracting us from these things, it would behoove us to reevaluate our priorities.
Another thing we see Jesus doing here is resting, and spending time alone with God. Even Jesus needed rest, and even Jesus needed time with God. If we think we can go without either of these, we are sorely mistaken. These are not simply icing on top of the cake once we’ve finished all of the important tasks. These are musts if we are going to live the life that God has called us to live.