2015: Same Old, Same Old?

With the holidays behind us, it's back to the typical swing of things. Back to the schedules. Back to the routine. Back to the grind.

But should we really despise ordinary schedules and mundane routine? Hasn't God  created us to live and glorify him in this way? With the dawn of a new year, it may be worth ref
lecting on the importance of a regular rhythm for living the Christian life. God has designed us as creatures that need rhythm. In his wisdom, our Creator ordered our time in terms of morning and evening (Gen 1). He has designed our bodies to work by day and sleep by night. He modeled for us a pattern of working six days and resting on one (Gen 2.1-3). He made us in his image to reflect his holy ways by keeping this pattern of working and resting (Gen 1; Ex 16; 20.8-11).

This means we need to work when we are at work, and then rest when it is time to rest. God is glorified by our vocations as we work hard and provide a product or service that is beneficial to our neighbor. Daily work is an ordinary part of being human and image-bearers of God (Gen 2.15; Eph 6.5-8; 1 Thes 4.11-12; 2 Thes 3.10). It is one of our most important spiritual duties, and we should give our best hours of each day to fulfill those callings. Then, when the day is over, it is time to slow down and relax. And when night falls, it is time to sleep. As the psalmist says, it is vain to get out of rhythm, going to bed late and “eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives his beloved sleep” (Ps 127.2).

Granted, an ordinary schedule of morning and evening probably came easier to people in the days before electricity. Most people went to bed soon after dark and woke up with the sun. And they didn’t live in a world blazing with artificial light. But when an ordinary schedule of work and rest is lost, we often feel more busy and overwhelmed than we actually are. Feeling crazy-busy is an epidemic problem in our day. Much of this is due to our own blurring of the lines between work and rest. As Pastor Kevin DeYoung put it,

Many of us are less busy than we think, but life feels constantly overwhelming because our days and weeks and years have no rhythm…One of the dangers of technology is that work and rest blend together in a confusing mush. We never quite leave work when we’re at home, so the next day we have a hard time getting back to work when we’re at work. We have no routine, no order to our days. We are never completely “on” and never totally “off.” So we dawdle on YouTube for twenty minutes at the office and then catch up on e-mails for forty minutes in front of the TV at home…Our lives are getting more and more rhythm-less. We don’t have healthy routines. We can’t keep our feasting and fasting apart. Evening and morning have lost their feel. Everything is blurred together. The faucet is a constant drip. Life becomes a malaise, until we can’t take any more and spiral into illness, burnout, or depression.[1]

How much more effective, God-glorifying, and happy would we be in our callings if we were devoted to working when it is time to work and resting when it is time to rest?

The same is true with regard to attending worship and observing the Lord’s Day. In the resurrection of Christ, God has caused the birthday of the new creation to dawn, and calls us to worship him and enjoy his feast on the first day of every week (Luke 24.1-6; Acts 20.7; 1 Cor 16.2; Rev 1.10). Weekly Word and sacrament is his design for our lifelong sanctification. The morning and evening worship services on the holy day of rest is where we receive God’s means of grace and enjoy life together with the saints in the local congregation to which we belong.

But when we fail to attend diligently the Divine Services, when we crowd out the Lord’s Day with unnecessary work or too much entertainment, when we get our priorities all mixed up, we only deprive ourselves. Like a garden that fails to receive regular, consistent watering, our souls cannot flourish without the living water of Word and sacrament, and the blessing of the communion of saints. These great gifts simply cannot be replaced by other means, not even by our own personal Bible reading, or by listening online to our favorite preacher during the week. If our goal in life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, we need the regular rhythm of the Lord’s Day.

Yes it is ordinary, routine, fairly predictable, and sometimes boring. But then, so is the rising and setting of the sun each day, yet we certainly can’t live without that. My point is that we need rhythm to fulfill our callings as human beings and disciples of our Lord. Let us enjoy rather than despise what God has built in to creation: the daily living of morning and evening, and the weekly pattern of six and one. As individuals, let us begin each day with prayer, work hard in our vocations, and rest well at night. As families, let us regularly eat dinner together, and keep the habit of opening up God’s Word. And as a congregation, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10.24-25).

Affectionately in Christ,
Pastor Mike Brown

[1] Kevin DeYoung, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 92, 94