Don’t work so hard.

May 22, 2007 at 1:50 pm 4 comments

Many times in my ministry life I have said to people when talking about the Spiritual life: “don’t try so hard, relax, you don’t have to work so hard to walk with Jesus.”  It really is possible to put too much effort into our relationship with the Father.  It is religion that tells us to work harder, do more, and it is religion telling us to take on more tasks to “help” us get closer to the One who is never far away.

Have you ever found yourself feeling like you if you just read another book, joined another study, served more at your church, went to another seminar you would be more godly and then after working yourself to exhaustion it felt so fruitless? 

The people I have found who wander the farthest away from the Father when trouble comes are those who felt they had given their all to serve Him and worked their hardest to do everything there was to do in order to please Him and then, because what they had was religion and not a relationship, they felt abandoned when things went wrong. 

Of course there is nothing wrong with giving one’s life to serve and please the Father but the problem comes when we allow religion to tell us God’s love for us is dependent on what we do for Him.  Religion tells us our relationship with the Father is dependent on our diligence, our commitment and our effort.  Religion is always based on performance and tries to get us to produce the things Jesus wants to see in our lives.  Religion has lied to us and the institutional church depends on us living the lie.

The word I am hearing the Father say to me over and over again when I fall into the performance mode or fall under the guilt of failing to perform is RELAX!  Relax and live in My affection and give up trying to earn or gain My approval by performing well or doing more.

How often I was critical of myself because my performance at something fell short of what I thought the Father expected of me.  Regularly I felt estranged from Him because I just knew He was displeased with me for some failure or some thought or action I knew was sin.

The other day I heard a young person raving about the spiritual depth of someone we both knew.  They were so impressed because the person was up every morning at 5 (or some other ungodly hour) to read the Bible and pray.  They effused on and on about the things this person did that appeared to the young person as the way you do it if you want to be Godly. 

This person may in fact be a deeply spiritual and Godly person and part of their spiritual depth may have come from this rigorous devotional life but what it told my young friend was “if you want to have a relationship with God you better perform in this way”.  Their response?  “I could never be that way” and implicit in their response was, I will never be Godly!

Please don’t do that to yourself.  You are too unique and too special and Jesus is too creative to resort to formulas.  Have you ever thought about the truth that the Father wants a relationship with you more than you could ever want one with Him? 

RELAX, invite His presence into your life and enjoy Him when He accepts your invitation.  Enter fully into personal and corporate worship times with abandonment and uninhibited. When you read the Bible, read it as the love letter from Dad it is.  Rest in the truth of His deep and total love for you and above all don’t work so hard. 

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Entry filed under: Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Jesus, Revelation, The Father, Thoughts.

“Till then I trust”. It is so damn hard.

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dave  |  May 26, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Listen …do you hear that?

    It’s surprising how the masks we wear affect our hearing. For years I wore mine and couldn’t hear it either. I was to busy doing, trying to achieve, needing to impress to worried to relax must less rest. Listening to everything but not hearing, doing but accomplishing nothing, going everywhere and getting nowhere, reading everything and learning little.

    I felt I could tell God how it should be, after all I’ve been real busy serving Him.

    “Then the Lord answered me (really Job, but you get the point) out of the storm. He said: Who is it that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man: I will question you (emphasis mine), and you will answer me.”

    68 verses later I agreed with Job – “I am unworthy – how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer – twice, but I will say no more.”

    I like to call it “soaking”, you may call it relaxing, rest or to be still. But whatever you call it don’t do whatever it takes to hear the voice of God. Just listen!

  • 2. Royal  |  May 23, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I don’t think the author of this blog was trying to say that everyone should be lazy in worship or prayer. Or that the best way to connect with God is by kicking back in your favorite arm-chair instead of helping with the church potluck. I believe the message he is delivering is that God already likes you, he created you in his image, so wy not just “relax” and let him in. You don’t have to try to impress him with your daily routine, I don’t think God keeps a tally of every persons praying habits. I think what the author is saying is that if you connect with the Lord while taking a slow walk then great, do that. Don’t force yourself to do things for God, I doubt he needs our help, when you don’t actually want to do them just becuase you think it makes you closer to him. You are gaining nothing from the experience and are probably not giving your all to the task anyway.

  • 3. damon  |  May 23, 2007 at 7:57 am

    Relax……..hmm……I reflected on this a bit as I was relaxing this morning after a little exercise; I was sitting in a Jacuzzi enjoying the sun coming up; it’s rays streaking through the trees; the quiet and calm of the early morning; the quiet shared with the singing of the birds; thankful for the beauty of God’s creation; a couple of verses came to mind:

    “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15

    I think this involves a bit of “work” or effort to spend time in God’s word. Some spend much time as you say getting to know God, but may not be effective in reaching others; for whatever reason.

    “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

    I think that these verses (not the only ones) talk about the need to know God, both in work and rest and then perform the good works God has created us to do. Is it not a balance between work and rest that is essential? Is it possible to “rest” or experience joy when working? I think with Spirit it is possible. In a 24 hour day there is time for work and time for rest; in a 7 day week, there is a time for work and a time for rest. God worked six days and rested on the seventh; setting an example for us to follow. Do we do a good job “resting” with God on the Sabbath? God also calls us to pray continuously. Is it not possible to have experiential relationship with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit during both “work” and “rest”? Will we work and rest in Heaven? Does prayer on a continual basis help us achieve this during both? Does our work or rest help us to produce fruit? If we spend all of our time in work or rest for ourselves, we may as well move to a remote place on the planet; a place where we will not be in contact with anyone; isolated. In work and rest, on a daily basis, we need to be ready to do the “good works”; helping others directly or indirectly come to know and accept Jesus; not just working and resting for ourselves. If we learn but do not share, we are not very productive parts of the body; we may be needed to do missions, or ministries; but we need to be the reflection of Christ; in the “everyday mundane” as well.

    As for how, when and how much we work, learn, study or rest; I think there is another verse that directs us to “work” as if we are working for God……….that is a bit to ponder

  • 4. .justin  |  May 22, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    good post.
    it’s just what we’ve been working throuhg in YOUth Church lately.
    it seems the answer, from students is, you’re right… i need to love GOD more…
    but then we’ve got to go back to the beginning.

    it’s all about GRACE.
    driscoll commented in a rant at the end of the Redeeming Ruth series on living in a “Religion Paradigm” or a “Redemption Paradigm”. it’s worth a watching. infact, the entirety of the Redeeming Ruth 6-week series was brilliant.

    it’s going to sure take sometime to breakout of this/these religious cycles.

    and “modeling” seems to be the only way to “teach grace”, eh?

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