Summary: A balanced life can open us to experience the abundant life that God has promised to us. Slowing down is one step in achieving and maintaining a balanced life.
JULY 23, 2006
Luke 6:12-19 “Slowing Down”
We begin a new series of sermons today—“Discover Balance.” For the rest of the summer, we will be examining the topic of how we achieve and maintain balance in our lives. Today we will talk about slowing down. In future weeks we will look at “Building Magic in Your Life,” “How to Lighten Your Load,” “Focusing Your Life,” and several other topics.
The obstacle to a balanced life that we will talk about today is obvious and uncomplicated. Simply put, we are in a rat race. The puzzle that we must solve is how to get out of the race. We run from the moment we wake up until we go to bed. The only time we may slow down and stop is if we are caught in a rush hour traffic jam. Like modern airliners, our calendars are overbooked, and nothing in our schedule seems willing to accept the offer of money and free travel to remove itself from our busy day.
The answer to slowing down is not found in PDA’s, cell phones, or MP3 players. Nor is it discovered in time-saving appliances, time management seminars, or Eastern religions. Slowing down is demonstrated by Jesus in the gospel text that was read today. Significant progress can be made in the journey toward balance by applying the truths that we observe in this text to our lives.
KNOWING WHO WE ARE
Tough early in his ministry, Jesus is still extremely busy. People have heard that he can heal them from their sicknesses, and they are flocking to him with their needs. Jesus even heals on the Sabbath, and in doing so ignites the conflict between the Pharisees and him. When we read this passage of Scripture, though, we do not get the impression that Jesus is harried, over worked, or stressed out. In the middle of ministry, Jesus has discovered how to slow down.
Jesus was able to achieve and maintain balance in his life, at the very beginning of his ministry, because Jesus understood who he was. Before he started his ministry, Jesus was baptized by John. A voice from heaven called out to him during his baptism and announced to him that he was God’s beloved son in whom God was well pleased. God’s announcement was confirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him.
Jesus understood who he was. He was the Son of God. He was loved. The Holy Spirit was present in his life. The foundation of Jesus’ life and ministry was who he was and not what he did. Living in the reality of his baptism, could celebrate who he was and not strive to prove his worth or earn the esteem of others.
Like Jesus, our ability to slow down is fundamentally tied to our baptism. A life of faith is lived out in the reality that we are loved by God and forgiven because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is nothing that will change this truth and God’s relationship with us. We do not need to go around being “good” in order to win God’s approval or impress God. We do not need to earn our salvation by being involved in every good work that crosses our path.
The joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that we can identify and define ourselves by who we are rather than what we do. We are human beings, and not human doings. Until this truth becomes central in our lives, we will always be tempted to prove our worth, earn the respect of others, and climb to the top of the mountain because we think this is these are the paths to our salvation.
Freed from the tyranny of good works, Jesus was able to set his priorities. The top priority for Jesus was his relationship with God the Father. The natural consequence of this priority was that even though there were hundreds more people to heal and probably thousands more demons to be cast out, Jesus went up to a mountain to pray.
Jesus understood the need for balance in his life. Not only did he want to nourish his relationship with God the Father, Jesus also wanted to be powerfully effective in his ministry. Jesus realized that in order for him to be effective in his ministry, he needed times of rest, recreation and relaxation. Slowing down and adding balance to our lives enables us to experience a more abundant, effective life.
Jesus realized also the necessity of getting away. Jesus left the people and deliberately sought a place where he could be alone. He didn’t take his computer. He didn’t take his cell phone. He didn’t stock up his favorite CD’s. He didn’t even take a good book with him. Jesus wanted to be silent, and still, not so that he could rest, but also so he could hear the still small voice of God. God rarely shouts. Usually God whispers to us through our hearts.