Lots of conversation about work and play. Lots. We chat and stress about it in small groups. And God had a thing or two to say about it throughout the ages.
The tricky part is achieving that balance, right?
So, okay, I guess most of us understand the concept of work and play even if we don’t always have it down pat. Our dedication to hard work for our families and humanity is mostly balanced by those moments, whether brief or extended, of self-care and rest.
And that’s what bothers me and why I am uneasy when I look out at the world.
I am reminded of the words that often describe people like me:
And it’s hard to argue with the evidence proving these words accurate. Based on local, national, and world news and statistics, people who look like me and live like me have a pretty sweet deal when it comes to daily life, rights, and freedoms…especially when compared with people not like me in any way.
My lovelies, it troubles me. We monitor our hard work and rest schedule. We volunteer for righteous causes, care for our families, and look out for our besties. We attend to self-care and feeding our souls, finding peace and finding God’s plan for our life. All good. All very good and admirable goals as we walk and talk with Jesus.
But this is what’s troubling to me: Our biggest concern is that our freedom to control the moments we work hard and the ones we rest is just that – our biggest concern. Singer-songwriter and author Nichole Nordeman recently posted:
Something I’ve been wrestling with lately: the pervasive culture of self-love/self-care in [Christ]ian circles right now. I’m such an advocate for healing and wholeness, but the short leap to self-indulgence troubles me. It’s so privileged and so Western.
Take, for example, the water and food crisis in African countries. It’s unsettling to know how much our brothers and sisters endure to simply survive – not thrive, just survive. For example, according to WorldVision:
Moms and daughters walk … 6K barefoot or in rubber sandals to collect water from polluted rivers and ponds. And they often make that trip more than once a day!
Maybe they climb up steep hills or over rocks, slide down a steep gully, or circle around thorn trees. There may be snakes and bees or people who want to rob them, or worse — lying in wait along the way.
On the way home from the water source, it gets even harder.
Good golly, Miss Molly.
In light of the amount of money and time we spend on our quiet time, therapy, soothing bath bombs and lotion, inspirational Bible conferences at sleek venues and comfortable hotels, what do we have to say to a mom who cannot even turn on a tap for fresh water? How do we dare suggest self-care when every waking hour she struggles to feed, clothe, and protect her family, often by herself? And, yet, is she not just as much a treasured child of the most High God as we are? Isn’t her soul just as tenderly loved as those of us who have matching appliances, central air, spin classes, regular family vacations, and favorite podcasts?
I may be way off base, but I don’t believe for one quick second Jesus wants me to give up my bath bombs or inspirational conferences and start walking 6K for water. I don’t believe He is asking me to stop wearing sturdy shoes or turn in my laptop for a pencil and paper scraps.
I do believe, however, that He is watching carefully as entitlement and privilege have caused us to lose sight of the world.
And, because we have learned to expect full-service accommodations, support systems, and liberties, we are currently in a state close to panic that we may lose the luxurious right to openly worship, pray, sing, listen, and gather in the name of Jesus. We watch apprehensively while what we have taken for granted for the whole of our lives comes under political fire.
We are so concerned about losing what we have we have lost sight of what others don’t have.
I’m not suggesting that any of us are cold-hearted, uncaring, even selfish. I’m not pointing fingers at those who may have more than me, expecting them to pare down. I’m not saying we should not or cannot enjoy how God has gifted us a life of relative ease and comfort. I know y’all are generous and concerned, conscientious and diligent. I admire the sacrifices some make for the sake of the call and the Word.
It’s really important, though, that we recognize what may be a sacrifice to us is beyond the pale of possibility for others. What we may be more than willing to give up is what some may never have or know.
We do not arrive in a position of entitlement and privilege by our own means. It is determined by circumstances and events over which we have little to no control. It is unrealistic to believe that we can change that – we are who we are and we are who God made us to be.
But I am convicted by the inequities of a fallen world and how my comfort is not mine to protect, but mine to share with those who have less or none.
And it’s way beyond my pay grade to understand why I’m free to plan my coffee dates and choose my next book, while Chinese Christians and Syrian pastors languish in prison or worse and children of color must be taught how to protect their lives when involved in a simple traffic stop. Lord have mercy.
But it’s essential that I understand my responsibility to be prepared to relinquish entitlement and privilege, frivolous things of the temporal earth, to further the eternal Kingdom.
I am privileged. Yes, I am. But each day, I hope to be a little more like Jim Elliot. A wise and self-less man who believed:
He is no fool
who gives up what he cannot keep
to gain that which he cannot lose.