Wasting Time With Jesus

Wasting Time With Jesus For Contemplation
By Pastor Josh Bundy

 

“…consider the flowers of the field…” Matthew 6:28

 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about being a Jesus follower, or a disciple. What makes a certain rhythm, discipline, or pursuit a following-Jesus-action? What does Jesus say he wants his disciples to do?

 

Well, he says a lot in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So, what comes next is not a comprehensive take. This is not “Jesus’ elevator pitch on discipleship.” It’s more like: one great point from Jesus that we often overlook.

 

Matthew 5-7 is a pretty famous Bible section (if you’re into keeping track of which parts of the Bible get more attention.) It is called the “Sermon on the Mount.” People have said a lot about it and written mountains of books about it. It is a concentrated talk by Jesus about the life of people who are following him. It challenges conventions with radical takes on who is truly blessed, what it means to obey God from the heart, and how a follower practices discipleship.

 

Jesus names a couple of pretty standard spiritual disciplines. Giving. (We probably all know that giving to God’s work is part of the calling). Praying. (Again, no surprise this is part of the plan). Fasting. (Ok, we’re getting more interesting. Is that really in there?)

 

Then he hits on a couple of things that get routinely ignored as far as serious discipleship practices are concerned. In Matthew 6:19 Jesus says, “Do not store up treasures on earth.” And in verse 25 he says, “Do not be anxious about your life.” Ok Jesus, you are pushing pretty hard on us now!

 

I take the first teaching, do not store your possessions, to mean something like the spiritual discipline of simplicity. Now, this will really mess with our conventions because it sounds like Jesus is warning us not to keep too much stuff and not to become hoarders. As interesting (and spiritually helpful) as the discipline of simplicity is, it is not the one I want to stay with today. I want to stay for a minute with the second one: do not be anxious.

 

This has been a troubling teaching to me because anxiety is such a hard thing to beat. The harder you fight it, the faster you are stuck in the briars, or so it seems. Anxiety seems to activate just when you push back. So, what does Jesus offer to help you with this?

 

Well, he commands, not merely suggests, two things: “Look at birds” in verse 26 and “Consider flowers” in verse 28. And these are commands of Jesus. He actually expects us to do these two things.

 

This is the spiritual discipline that is sometimes called contemplation. Not an empty head like some Eastern spiritual practice, but a calm head and mind and soul that takes time to simply waste with God and some of his created wonders. Jesus does not suggest you waste time with God, he commands it. Jesus actually expects his followers to sit and consider the wonders of animals, birds, flowers, and other created marvels. He expects us to do it with God in mind. While we look at them we consider and contemplate his care for us, his love for us, his provision, and even the gospel of grace.

 

I won’t fill this blog with too many more words. I just want to encourage you that God knows you are so busy. He knows you get anxious about things. This command can be more to you than a shaming or guilt inducing experience. There is hope for you. I won’t say everything here that I have to say about the discipline of contemplation, or of simplicity for that matter, but please consider: how many times have you been through this famous scripture and not seen that Jesus really expects for you to do this?

 

Grace and peace to you all. May your summer be a non-anxious time, by God’s grace,

 

- Josh