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September 21, 2020

Musing About Idleness

Dr. John Neufeld

I have been thinking about 2 Thessalonians 3:6.  “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

It is the mark of a faithful follower of Jesus, that we are active, and not disengaged.  We are called to lean in or to contribute.  We are called upon to provide for our own needs through our own labour, not waiting for others to care for us.  Furthermore, we are called to pay our own way, and even have something left over to share with those in need.  We are called upon to be the answer and not the problem.

I contrast that, to the difficult days in which we are presently living.  The days of living with COVID have now turned into weeks and months.  At present, we still can’t see an end to the current crisis.  Some are still out of work.  The economy is lagging.  Disease stalks the earth.  Many people are despairing.  Furthermore, where I live (on Canada’s West Coast), our skies have turned grey and our air quality is at dangerous levels.  This is due to the wildfires raging all along the west coast, from California to Washington.  Viewing the sun with a reddish colour gives the environment a slightly apocalyptic feel.  Furthermore, at present, many American cities have been hit by unrest.  Further complicating matters, is the ever-increasing divide we are all feeling in our wider culture.

For some, all of this is reason to despair.  The world we once knew (some months earlier) seems all but gone.  How are Christians to respond?  I have, in the past, written about the importance of continuing to fellowship with believers, continuing to read our Bible and pray, as well as to place our hope in the promises of our Lord.  But still, the days of our distress carry on.

And that brings me back to the topic of idleness.  God wants us, to work.  Even if that work is not a full-time job, idleness is the enemy of the Christian.  Seeking comfort and ease will result in discomfort and a lack of ease.

Furthermore – 2 Thessalonians 3 reminds us, that we are to keep on doing the right things.  We are called upon to be a blessing to the lives of others.  We are to be engaged in productive labour.  We are, in this way, to take responsibility for the lives of others.  As we seek to share with those in need, we are called upon to contribute.  We are also called upon to model the productive lifestyle to others.  And we are called upon to hold a proper view of work.  Work is not a curse, it is a blessing.  It is a great mistake to think that work is only a means of accumulating enough money so that we can stop working.  Rather, our work is a gift of God, so that we, like God, might show our love to this world.

If, during this time of COVID, you feel tired, and are wondering when all of this is going to end, here is one very important matter: GET BUSY!  Fill your day with productive activity.  And give thanks to God, that you have a purpose for your life.

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