‘Busyness’ is not necessarily Godliness as the story of Mary illustrates. The relationships in play in the room that day show that we can be near God but not joined to Him in our hearts and in the flow of His spirit and life. Even when our busyness is a form of godliness, we remain deprived if we are using our activity as virtue signalling to ourselves and to others.
The life of ourselves and the life we are able to impart to each other depends on the reality of our union with God. Some are insulated from this union by erroneous beliefs like a partial and unfinished ‘atonement’ or an attachment to iconic rites thought to be meritorious in themselves. The final words of Revelation warn against adding or subtracting to this gospel for a reason: it insulates us from God and makes for a lesser christ and crippled people.
We are in trouble if our church is not a community of the atonement because we have insulated ourselves from union with God and made religion out of separation. Christian Kettle writes, “The church as the body of Christ, as the community of the atonement, should be a place of “rehabilitation” for all, building upon the accomplished radical surgery performed by the life of the Son lived in our human flesh.” (1) Such at-one-ment works from within because Christ has come in our flesh.
You might remember the story of Martha who was anxious to make sandwiches Jesus did not ask for and Mary, who fed Jesus’ heart by receiving words of life at His feet. We are not important because we are busy. Neither are we necessarily advancing God’s cause because we are active. We can note the following points about Jesus’ activities:
He and His Father were one. He only did what His Father was doing and His actions released spirit and life.
Jesus spirit and life – that healing goodness that flowed naturally from His being was the life of our Father, the presence of Holy Spirit and of course Himself emanating from His person. As. God Jesus was life itself or more accurately life Himself since life is personal and relational and never an abstraction.
RIVERS OF LIFE
Sadly busy people can be bereft of spirit and life. Prone to pumping out plans that did not originate in Jesus, they imply like Martha that those who pursue God with all they are - are in some way derelict. With an appearance of merit some of these people are waking husks, busy-busy in self recommendation but ever opposing the genuine moves of God and His Godliness.
Busyness can be more than irrelevant to the situation as was Martha’s obsessive behavior. It can rationalise our quiet refusal to follow where Jesus is leading. It can be a front for inert hearts, blind eyes and wilfully deaf ears
Jesus warned that that actions in the flesh mean nothing for the Kingdom. It’s just ‘busy work.’ The advance of the Kingdom is never about filling a religious opportunity with a piece of religion, information or behaviour modification. We are no longer in the realm of the knowledge of good and evil where any piece of information will do. We are one with God. We are living in God in the fellowship of the trinity and are instruments of spirit and life. This is if we are in the Spirit and not in the separation and artifice of the law.
Old covenant ministry will innevitably be very low octane, tedious, irrelevant and without spirit and life.
When Jesus worked life flowed out of His being because He and Father were one. We are able to do the same in the new covenant age because the essence of the new covenant is union with God. It is ours. We are the expression of the trinity in any and every situation when we live in this mindset - the mind of Christ in which we realize that ‘I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20. In this mode, in this mindset we are always life-givers.
This mindset and this position is the source and the soil of the anointing and the gifts. Without this soil the result will be torpor and ineffectualness.
WHEN DOING IS KINGDOM
‘Doing’ is useful. But not necessarily Kingdom Life. The latter is always bulging with the spirit and life that flows from the trinity through you into your situation. ‘Do gooderism’ may not be spiritual at all, particularly if it is done to make an impression, pay back Jesus for what He has done or to persuade God and ourselves that we are worthy or cutting edge. I have seen active people, surrounded by a cloud like atmosphere of death. This is the effect of living from the body of death instead of the Spirit of Life. Paul wrote,
‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?’ Rom 7.24 NIV. We have been rescued. We are one with God. Paul is talking of our separated Adamic life under the law and old covenant.
We can ensure that everything we do is life-giving, useful and Kingdom enhancing by one simple means. Agreeing that Jesus is our life. By this means we become life and all we touch advances the Kingdom because we are channels of spirit and life. As we grow in being alive in Jesus’ life we will experience the joy of being ourselves and multiplying spirit and life in the freedom of being us. Charles Ringma writes,
“Spirituality is not simply an inward disposition. It is not only a peaceful and tranquil state of mind. Spirituality must also come to expression in acts of kindness, deeds of love, and thankful service. Such service need not always be hard, sacrificial, demanding, and burdensome. Service can also be joyful and liberating. It can be an important expression of who we are, an outworking of our giftedness and the realization of impulses that seek to bring about the good and the beautiful. But service needs to be focused. We cannot do everything. Nouwen makes the realistic observation, "If I were to let my life be taken over by what is urgent, I might very well never get around to what is essential.” (2)
There are millions in need in the world. You can’t meet every need and were never meant to. You will be fruitful in multiplying spirit and life (a) When you are doing what Jesus means you to be doing. (b) When you are doing that which is an expression of your sonship/daughtership and (c) when you are acting in the timing of Holy Spirit. (e) When you are positioned in where God has placed you – in Himself and when you are alive in Christ’s gospel and not some version of your own – in which case you will be dead.
How do we do these things? We agree that Christ is our life and we live in Him and nothing else. Because you are living in the Spirit and not in the law or the garb of religion, everything we do will be the expression of God in you and of the real, life-giving you.
(1) Kettler, Christian D.. The Breadth and Depth of the Atonement: The Vicarious Humanity of Christ in the Church, the World, and the Self: Essays, 1990–2015 (p. 11). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Charles Ringma. Dare to Journey--with Henri Nouwen (Designed for Influence) (Kindle Locations 429-433). Kindle Edition.