About eight years ago I receive a call from a businessman who was burned out spiritually, physically and emotionally. He had spent years in church, attending innumerable services, seminars, men’s conferences, Bible studies, etc., etc. He’d done it all, all the while running his exceedingly demanding business, and raising two rambunctious boys. After years of conscientiously striving to live the Christian life by running at full throttle to fulfill his innumerable religious commitments, he found himself spiritually parched; burned out on keeping pace with the system that purportedly was suppose to renew him spiritually.
In the ensuing years, I got him to cut back on about 75% of his religious activities (boards, teaching, committees, religious meetings, etc.) and worked with him on developing as top priority, intimacy with Christ through un-rushed daily time with Jesus and his word. Not to mention his slowing down to re-connect with his wife and boys.
Today he is living at a measured pace; says “no” more than “yes” to stuff on the religious merry-go-round, and has developed a peaceful and loving relationship with his wife. He is also working at slowing down his boys – now middle and late teenagers – from mirroring his frantic pace of years past.
As I think of my friend Joe, I am reminded of A. W. Tozier’s poignant statement: “The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly and the peace of God scarcely at all.” 1
- If you are caught up in the swirl of religious activity that keeps you busy but spiritually dry, why ? What’s the point? What is the motivation? Peer pressure to conform? What is the primary driving force in your life? Seeking acceptance among your peers? Conforming to religious and societal mores? St. Paul stated, “ If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10b) Or is your primary motivation in life knowing and following Jesus? Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). If you are not free in your spirit, what is it that binds you?
- If you are entrenched in the web of a religious system that drains rather than feeds you , what practical steps do you need to consider in order to extricate yourself, so that you can begin concentrating on developing true intimacy and depth with Christ? Your decision may be that of choosing between bowing to man-made religion or fostering a relationship with God. (See Lk. 11:46; Jn. 5:44; 9:18-23; 12:42, 43; Act. 15:10; Gal. 6:13; Rev.:2:24)
This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.
R. Dwight Hill
1 “The Pursuit of God”– A. W. Tozier – Wing Spread Publishers, Camp Hill Penn 1995 pg 14