The Subtle Idol
When we think about idols there are several that stand out.
We can easily identify money, celebrities, sports teams, career progression and status as opportunities to waste our worship. These are obvious idols that grip our hearts and steal the focus of our reflection from who Jesus is, who we are in Him and what we have been called to do for Him.
However, hidden in our daily rhythms, our weekends, and the influences that bombard us, is a subtle and destructive idol. One that has the power to shape the way we spend our days, manipulate our mood and smother our relationships.
Its name is Productivity.
We are consistently under pressure to be doing. Our apps, smart watches and social schedules demand we do more and more each day. We feel we have to justify ourselves when we don’t have plans. We squeeze every moment until it yields to try and find meaningful experience, but our pursuit leaves us emptier than before. We lose the joy of stopping to reflect, listen and dwell. We struggle to learn that we can never bring fulfilment from the outside in.
We fill our Instagram with glimpses of the life-changing places we visit, the noble ways we serve God and the general 'fullness' of our lives. We exploit, and consequently waste, these moments by prioritising lighting and angles above exercising the skill of ‘dwelling’. They slip through our fingers, lost.
We forget how to be present. We hurry through our lives pushing God out and neglecting the space of waiting where true transformation and direction can occur. We get impatient with our prayers and insist that we see results inside our fabricated timeframes.
If we are to rebel against settling for a mediocre faith, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives.
We must stop, reflect, listen and dwell.
Jesus’ ministry was unhurried. He prioritised time with His Father and He never worshipped the idol of doing. His priority was being with God. We need time to abide in God, talk with Him, walk with Him, listen to Him and worship Him. Out of our worship and rest, and through receiving His grace and strength, He does more through us than we would ask or imagine.
Dwelling with God transforms our minds as we focus on the freedom given to us. The more we spend time with Him, the more our perspective aligns with Christ’s. The fullness of life offered to us is not found in misplaced doing or instant gratification. When we make our priority productivity, we miss out on this fullness that God offers when we abide in Him.
Spending time with God helps to change our perspective and desires, which determines our choices and behaviour, which influences the trajectory of our lives. As we dwell with Him, we will increasingly understand and receive the unforced rhythms of grace. We will learn to follow the purposeful yet unhurried pace of Jesus’ ministry and we will witness the economy of the Kingdom, which goes against our natural inclinations.
We are only truly living when who God is, and what He has done, shapes who we are and what we do.
To find freedom in our doing it needs to come from His being.