There’s Wingsuit Gliding and Bungie Jumping for the Thrill-Seeker. People will get as near as they can to death in order to feel alive. The movie, ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ was about ‘sucking the marrow out of life.’ A tragic aspect of the story was the suicide of a young man who chose death rather than the un-life of de-humanization his father had mapped out for him.
Many of us never seize the day because we have never seized life. Particularly when we inhabit the realm of religion and old covenant even though we have life in the Spirit of Christ on offer. The insidious nature of life in the shadow instead of the reality is that we do not know that we are dull and without spirit and life. Most of us seek life to the full and if we are not getting enough of life we may obsess over things that we hope will provide it. Holy Spirit and the anointing will not provide spirit and life if we are grounded in the law and old covenant. But this union with God will pave the way for the anointing and our dissemination of spirit and life.
Jesus announced that He had come to give us life to the full. When He declared that He had come to set captives free, this was about liberating people from their various modes of un-life and positioning them in life itself. Life itself is God. To be alive ourselves is to be in God and to embrace our position in the trinity.
Originally we were alive because we lived in God. Life seeped from us when Adam chose independence from God and sought to find it in himself and the things he did. The knowledge of good and evil - the attempt to know God and ourselves independently from God produces death in the soul and eventually the death of the body. But more deceptively than this it produces dead Christians who think they are alive.
The basic issue of living is life - whether we are having it or whether we are not. The elixir of life is Jesus. He called Himself the water of life and spoke of Himself as living water. He described the same truth when He warned that the flesh, the soul and an absorption in things of self-effort will not secure life. Because real life is the spirit-life that is God in us.
Work has the capacity to be the expression of our genuine selves and put bread on the table. Happy are they whose work enables them to create and be who they are. But when work is seen as the means to self-worth, it cannot deliver lasting satisfaction or life. A work addiction will suck the life out of our being, diminish our personhood and turn us into a caricature of our potential selves. So will an obsession with law.
Work for the purpose of self-worth building is a lie and an idol. A lie because the heart void is never filled and because the workaholic is more likely to be taken advantage of than appreciated. Superficially the work addict is seeking acceptance from his peers. Fundamentally the obsessive worker is seeking love - seeking to be loved and valued for themselves. But we have this in spades in our Father.
There is a way to be fully alive and suck the marrow out of life. This is the new and living way of Christ our life. He we are unconditionally loved, valued and seen as sons and daughters of God - not as people working to get approval. In Christ you are approved. Your place on God, in the Family of the trinity is real and forever. A friend of mine once asserted in one of our enjoyable conversations that God said, ‘Obey and live!’ So He did in the old covenant. In Christ He has said, ‘Live and obey!’ He has made us alive in Himself and situated us so that His life has become our life. This is life in God and life in the Spirit of Sonship.
You may or may not be surprised to learn that people can imagine they are worthy because they travel frenetically or because they are constantly busy. The fact is however that we are worthy because we are.
Workaholism is about the need to be validated. A work addiction can kill us physically, wither our soul and leech genuine life from family relationships. Work addicts will say that they are working for the family or to meet the cost of living. There is a shadow of truth in this. But work addiction is a subtle form of selfishness. In reality they are working to construct an image of themselves that they can respect and a public image that makes them valued. Some caught in this trap find it difficult to sit and relax - in case their being and sense of self should ‘disappear,’ while they are still and because they are never sure that they deserve to relax. They are busy earning their place in life by constant activity and are never sure that they have done enough to be valued and loved. Those who live from the law live from a false need to be validated - by themselves.
Now and again the children of non-belief are more discerning than the children of light. In an article in The Guardian, Bridie Jabour writes,
“I revelled in telling people how much I worked and the certificate [I received awarded by relatives] was a long running family in-joke about people thinking they are important for putting in long hours at work and missing significant occasions because of it…
The middle class lament of “I’m so exhausted” commits one of the worst sins of all – it is boring. It is boring to talk about how much you work and how tired you are. It is boring to think your job actually matters that much. It is boring to think you have found your-self-worth in [something that is as banal as] what almost all of us have to do to survive: work.”
This obsessive work syndrome cripples our humanity. It denies the vitality of family relationships and is an object lesson to members of the family that work is more important as an entity than they are. It dulls our ability to perceive God and relate to Him. It captures us in religion - which is itself a system of earning approval - preventing intimacy with God. Worse still it dulls spiritual discernment and makes us a religious hack.
‘These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother’ Gal 4.24-26 NIV.
It’s not only boring. It’s sad and pathetic. Particularly if we are Believers. With this attitude it is clear that we could have been just as happy if born as an ox or some other beast of burden who has no life outside of eating and drawing burdens. But we have chosen to be workers and slaves and deny our inheritance as the sons and daughters of God. We do not enter our rest because we have chosen not to. As Paul said, ‘Who has bewitched you?’
‘And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest’ Heb 4.5 NIV.
Because Christ is our life we are in God, in our Father where we are valued and loved as daughters and sons. To live from this identity as a daughter or a son is rest and peace. Here in comfort, security and love our tanks are filled and our souls have peace and rest. Jesus is our Sabbath rest, our Sabbath peace and our real Sabbath rest from the work of self-validation and self-worth building.
‘Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world’ Heb 4.3 NIV.