One Thing to Change Everything

Worship Gathering this Sunday (June 2)  at 6:45pm in the St. Johns Room at Faith Community Church (3450 CR210, 32259).

What if there was this one thing, and if you were intentional about this one thing, you would have more passion for mission, greater love for your neighbors, a richer walk with God, a deeper connection with the people you live with, and greater strength to resist temptation?

It’s just one thing.

Jesus operated with a steady awareness of it.  And it wasn’t actually something he had to do, but it was something he was intentional about eliminating from his life.  And we can, too.  But it is very much contrary to the American way of life.

We would be more at peace with one another if we learned it.  Facebook would be a much different place.  People would be less tempted to pass on fake news, less tempted to write people off, less threatened by contrary arguments, and frankly, kinder.

American Christians are often much less attentive to this one thing, but our churches would be different, too.

Back in 2002, John Ortberg called his mentor, Dallas Willard, who was the head of the philosophy department at the University of Southern California to ask for some spiritual direction.  (Wouldn’t it be cool to have a mentor like that?)  Here’s what it their conversation looked like:

I described the pace of life in my current ministry. The church where I serve tends to move at a fast clip. I also told him about our rhythms of family life: we are in the van-driving, soccer-league, piano-lesson, school-orientation-night years. I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy?

Long pause.

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” he said at last.

Another long pause.

“Okay, I’ve written that one down,” I told him, a little impatiently. “That’s a good one. Now what else is there?” I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.

Another long pause.

“There is nothing else,” he said. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

I’ve concluded that my life and the well-being of the people I serve depends on following his prescription, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry destroys souls. As Carl Jung wrote, “Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.”

For most of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.

“Settling for a mediocre version of our faith.”  That challenges me.  Anyone who has felt the call to live life on mission is probably repelled by the notion of settling for mediocrity.  And I know he’s right.  Whenever I have had to hurry, my effectiveness in mission and ministry has been diminished.  I bet mediocrity is not acceptable to you.

I also know it’s hard.  I’ve tried to eliminate hurry from my life.  Everything seems to push against it.  And so much is at stake.

I can’t remember when I heard it, but you can’t love people in a hurry very well.   The scriptures teach us that love is patient: patience, by definition, takes time.

I see it very clearly as I try to live life on mission.  The more I have to do, the less time I have for relationship.  We’ve lived in the same neighborhood for twelve years now.  Over those twelve years, I’ve had greater and lesser connection to my neighbors, greater and lesser effectiveness in mission here.   The effectiveness correlates very closely with how much hurry I had in my life.  Not long ago, I stopped serving as the associate pastor at Sawgrass Chapel.  A driving motivation behind that decision was to create margin to have more time for ministry and mission in my neighborhood.  Sawgrass Chapel wasn’t a demanding place to serve.  But I’ve felt called to my neighbors.  After some time of discernment, I knew that if I was to answer this call to my neighborhood, I would need to say no to Sawgrass Chapel.   it was the one thing on my plate that seemed to crowd out space for other things.   And doors are starting to open!

Through the scriptures, the voice of God both commands and invites us to, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  So much is at stake.  So much is available to us.   A little more from Ortberg:  “If you want to follow someone, you can’t go faster than the one who is leading; following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. Jesus was often busy but he was never hurried. Being busy is an outer condition; being hurried is a sickness of the soul.”

What are you doing Sunday night?  Slow down.  Come join us for worship.  Let us consider together how to might encourage one another to follow Jesus.  We are gathering for worship at 6:45 at Faith Community Church.  I hope you can be with us.  Come and be equipped and encouraged for life on mission.

Excerpts from “Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry,” Leadership Jornal, 2002 and available at ChristianityToday.com

About Pastor Jesse

I am someone loved by Jesus - a disciple, husband, father, pastor, and engineer. I am passionate about making deeply surrendered disciples of Jesus who are motivated and equipped to make more.
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