Solid (spiritual) food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
By Christopher Wright
By stressing human choices as well as God’s ultimate control, the bible avoids slipping into fatalism or determinism. It affirms both sides of the paradox: humans are morally responsible for their choices and actions and their public consequences; yet God retains sovereign control over final outcomes and destinies.
The Bible presents the public square — human life lived in society and the marketplace — as riddled with sin, corruption, greed, injustice, and violence. That can be seen at local and global dimensions, from sharp practices at the market stall or corner shop, to the massive distortions and inequities of international trade.
Isaiah 65:17–25 is a glorious portrayal of the new creation — a new heavens and a new earth. It looks forward to human life that is no longer subject to weariness and decay, in which there will be fulfillment in family and work, in which the curses of frustration and injustice will be gone forever, in which there will be close and joyful fellowship with God, and in which there will be environmental harmony and safety.
The New Testament carries this vision forward in the light of the redemption achieved by Christ through the cross, and especially in the light of the resurrection. Paul comprehensively and repeatedly includes “all things” not only in what God created through Christ, but what he plans to redeem through Christ.
The final vision of the whole Bible is not of our escaping from the world to some ethereal paradise, but rather of God coming down to live with us once again in a purged and restored creation, in which all the fruit of human civilization will be brought into the city of God.
Your daily work matters because it matters to God. It has its own intrinsic value and worth. If it contributes in any way to the needs of society, the service of others, the stewardship of the earth’s resources, then it has some place in God’s plans for this creation and in the new creation. And if you do it conscientiously as a disciple of Jesus — bearing witness to him, being always ready to give an answer to those who enquire about your faith, and being willing to suffer for Christ if called to — then he will enable your life to bear fruit in ways you may never be aware of. You are engaged in the mission of God’s people.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
It is no mistake that today’s verse, on the power and efficacy of God’s word, falls directly in the middle of a passage about rest and weakness. The author opens by saying, “The promise of entering his rest still stands,” and ends with: “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Most people mistakenly believe that all you have to do to stop working is not work. The inventors of the Sabbath understood that it was a much more complicated undertaking. You cannot downshift casually and easily. This is why the Puritan and Jewish Sabbaths were so exactingly intentional. And not even our group leisure activities can do for us what Sabbath rituals could once be counted on to do. — Judith Shulevitz
We need rest, “to remind ourselves that there is more to us than our work, and the machinery of self-censorship must shut down, too, stilling the eternal inner murmur of self-reproach,” observes Judith Shulevitz in The New York Times. Shulevitz left the faith of her childhood only to become burned out by the torrent of modern striving.
We don’t have to strive, the author of Hebrews says, because Christ has striven — to the point of death — on our behalf. Creation is the story of rest interrupted; salvation the invitation back in. In this way Sabbath rest operates as a tuning fork.
We start each day with our personal security resting not on the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Christ but on our present feelings or recent achievements in the Christian life. Since these arguments will not quiet the human conscience, we are inevitably moved either to discouragement and apathy or to a self-righteousness which falsifies the record to achieve a sense of peace. The faith that is able to warm itself at the fire of God’s love, instead of having to steal love and self-acceptance from other sources, is actually the root of peace. — Richard Lovelace
Only the word of God can do this. It cuts away at our disordered loves, prunes our pride, heals our brokenness. It’s living and active — and it brings the peace we need, now and for eternity.
“One of the troublesome things about today’s simplicity movements is that they are often just alternate forms of consumption” — David Brooks
The desire to simplify, in-light of rampant materialism, gained traction over the past decade and blossomed into an overwhelming market of goods and services. Blogs, magazines, products, and even consultants have captured the public imagination — largely because most of us feel underwater when it comes to work, family, and personal life.
Magazines like Real Simple are sometimes asking you to strip away your stuff so you can buy new, simpler stuff. There’s a whiff of the haute bourgeoisie ethos here — that simplification is not really spiritual or antimaterialism; just a more refined, organic, locally grown and morally status-building form of materialism.
Brooks criticized the agnostic heart of modern simplicity movements, “Today’s simplicity movements are also not as philosophically explicit as older ones. The Puritans were stripping away the material for a closer contact with God… It’s easy to see what today’s simplifiers are throwing away; it’s not always clear what they are for.” Espousing moral frameworks, while rare for the rest of the Times, is something Brooks has become known for in his writing.
[Brooks] consulted Pastor Timothy Keller, founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and one of the country’s most prominent evangelicals. There are many explicitly Christian descriptions of sin: fallenness, brokenness, depravity. Keller suggested Brooks try a more neutral phrasing: “disordered love.” When we blab a secret at a party, for example, we misplace love of popularity over love of friendship.
Disordered love is an Augustinian framework which Dr. Keller regularly expounds upon in his teaching and writing. And it seems to have struck a cord with Brooks: “All of us love certain things,” he told the 2015 graduating class at Dartmouth. “But you don’t really know the nature of your love until you’ve tested it with reality.” The commencement address warned against what Brooks’ calls, “completely garbage advice: Listen to your inner voice. Be true to yourself. Follow your passion. Your future is limitless.”
Your fulfillment in life will not come from how much you explore your freedom and keep your options open. That’s the path to a frazzled, scattered life in which you try to please everyone and end up pleasing no one. Your fulfillment will come by how well you end your freedom.Making a commitment simply means falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it that will carry you through when your love falters.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. — Jesus
2 Kings 20 (Listen – 3:39) Hebrews 2 (Listen – 2:47)
2 Kings 21 (Listen – 4:06) Hebrews 3 (Listen – 2:25)
- The Evolution of Simplicity. David Brooks for The New York Times.
- Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family. Claire Cain Miller for The New York Times.
- The Transformation of David Brooks. Danny Funt for Columbia Journalism Review.
- 10 Posts on Becoming Minimalist. Joshua Becker.
- David Brooks’ Dartmouth 2015 Commencement Speech (video: 20:58)