In this third installment of reflections on combating busyness and creating space for God, we are going to take a look at the necessity for dealing firmly with the barriers that destroy space in our lives for God.
In order to place God first in our lives, we often have to confront other entities lobbying for our attention.
Let’s face it - most of us don’t do well with confrontation, and few do it well. People usually fall into two camps when it comes to confrontation. On one hand, many try to avoid confrontation at all costs, and often become bitter and resentful at they people they should be confronting in the process. On the other hand, some are too quick to confrontation, respond out of anger, and create problems that didn’t exist before, while making others feel uneasy and secretive.
Confrontation isn’t sinful in and of itself. It’s the way that we approach it that leads down dangerous paths.
Jesus himself was often embroiled in confrontation, particularly with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day. Since he remained sinless, that should prove to us that confrontation and acting strongly to follow God is a wonderful and necessary thing.
God wants us to act with purpose to create space to follow him closely - it’s important for our spiritual lives.
We often need to prioritize and respond effectively to the barriers and challenges holding us back from a stronger relationship to God, and that requires us to take drastic action in order to do so.
Thankfully, Scripture also provides us with guidance on the importance of drastic action, particularly in regards to the pursuit of a holy life abiding with Christ.
The Sermon on the Mount, depicted in Matthew chapters 5-7 is one of the most straight-forward of Jesus’ teachings, but also incredibly challenging to apply in full.
In this passage, Jesus describes many attributes of holy life, with increased emphasis on internal motivations as the foundation of outward actions. It’s a difficult passage if not viewed in the lens of grace and the understanding that Jesus used this teaching to sketch out the ideal life for his followers, while simultaneously recognizing and forgiving our failures to live up to this ideal every single day.
It is within this sermon that one of the most difficult to comprehend of all of Jesus’ teachings can be found, in v. 5:29,
“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
In verse 30, Jesus uses a similar analogy about the the preference of losing a hand rather than allowing it to draw us into the depths of sin. The context in which Jesus delivers this graphic exhortation falls under his teachings about lust and adultery, and he uses these verses to urge followers to do whatever it takes to avoid and remove sin from our lives.
Although I’m sure throughout history there have been more than a few Christians who have literally gauged their eyes out or lost their hand because of this passage, the larger directive that we can draw from Jesus’ teaching here is the necessity for “drastic action” to remain aligned with God. We should do what needs to be done in order to place God first in our life.
Drastic action - often, that’s exactly what we need.
There is a time and place for slow and steady results. Over-reaction to problems can itself lead to even bigger issues. But sometimes, when progress hasn't been made, and you find yourself time and time again wishing for an altered behavior, or a changed result in your life, and don’t see anything happening…well then maybe it’s time for drastic action to take place.
In terms of combating busyness and creating space in our life for God, what might drastic action look like?
If we all do some self-reflection, we’ll no doubt see the largest obstacles to creating space in our life for God, and there will almost always be a way to combat those barriers with drastic action. For example:
- You may need to quit some of the activities you find eating up your time.
- You might need to tell your boss that you’re taking home too much work on the weekends and some other solution needs to be found.
- You might need to announce to your family that you are setting aside time everyday for distraction-free focus on God, and they need to learn how to respect that space.
- You may need to turn down a business opportunity that might be financially beneficial, but will take up all of your extra time.
- You may need to pull favors or set up a baby-sitting schedule that provides you some extra space in your routine.
- You might have to make sacrifices. You can’t have everything and do everything - there is only so much time in the day.
No matter where you are, and despite how profound your obligations may be - there are always ways to cultivate space for your relationship with God. But creating those opportunities might mean letting go of things that might otherwise be beneficial.
Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t easy - God wants our time and focus, and he wants you. If other things are competing for you, then you might need to take drastic action to fight busyness and make God a bigger priority.
Where do you need to take drastic action to create space in your life for God?
This is part 3 of a 4 part devotional series based on combating busyness and finding space for God, check out the other two here: