2.14.2007

Rest is a Faithful Choice

Partly because I'm inherently curious, and partly because I'm a
consultant, I am a ravenous consumer of information. Whether it's
reading books, attending events, or checking out websites, I max out.
For me, it's important to stay informed, so I can add value to my
clients, offer insight to my friends, and enjoy the richness that is
life.

There's a whole movement of pastors who are revered for their
understanding of post-modern culture, and while they know way more
about secular stuff than I'll ever know about spiritual stuff, their
perspective doesn't impress me as much as the lack of that perspective
by other pastors frightens me. I mean, how can you expect to
represent if you don't know anything about the context in which you're
representing?

But this lead-up is all just a counter-balance to what I really want
to say, which is that we Christians have to faithfully and
intentionally choose to rest. There's always more we can do and more
we can learn and more we can listen and more we can understand. Rest
isn't what happens when you're done with all that, it's a specific act
we undertake, even at the expense of not doing and not learning and
not listening and not understanding.

I took a trip to New York last week that involved two connections. On
the first, I was in a car of blue-collar workers commuting to their
factory jobs. One the second, I was in a car of upper-class folks
visiting the Big Apple. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on their
conversations, and even in the short time we were together, I learned
a little something about their sub-cultures from the topics they
discussed, the tones in their voice, the pace and mood of their
exchanges.

As I got off the train, I thought to myself that I had previously
considered myself a fairly connected person in terms of being able to
understand a lot of different kinds of people. I realized instead
that I was pretty sheltered, that my life had narrowed down to a
smaller set of sub-cultures, and that any others I didn't naturally
rub shoulders with I was slowly drifting away from in terms of being
able to understand what was important to them and what life consisted
of for them and, ultimately, what it would mean for them to have a
personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In other words, a simple train ride revealed to me a huge area of
information that I was remarkably ignorant about. To the extent that
we are any sort of level of open-mindedness, this is what life will do
to you: show you just how much you don't know. And this, from someone
who feels he rubs up against a pretty diverse set of people, and who
prides himself on reading up on a wide variety of topics and cultures.

There's just so much I don't know. And I can respond to this fact by
jamming my information consumption into hyper-drive, reading more
books and attending more events and checking out more websites. Or I
can remember that we are commanded to rest, to be comfortable with our
human limits and to trust our all-knowing God to direct us to the
people and areas and topics where we can be of use to the Kingdom.

You can probably see that I have a problem with Christians who are
disengaged from the world, who make assumptions about the people and
cultures around them without taking the time to truly connect with
those people and cultures. You can probably also see that I am
challenging myself and others to not always be in
information-gathering mode, to make the faithful choice to rest,
knowing that while it may be true in some secular sense that while we
are on the sidelines others are "getting ahead," it is more profoundly
true that as we entrust ourselves in rest to God, He will exalt us.

Some days the tension of those two points above thrills me. Other
days it exasperates me. Today it drove me to blab on my blog.

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