We as Americans are addicted to speed. We are addicted to success. We are addicted to our self-checkout lines, our drive-through eating, our cramming as many conversations and people into our lives as possible in each day. We are addicted to noise. We are addicted to walking fast. We are addicted to perfectionism. There is always more to do. Nothing is ever complete. I find myself guilty of this, at this moment. And, the sad thing is, there are going to be people reading this saying “What’s wrong with what this kid is saying?”
If you read the Gospels. you see the writers make statements like “he withdrew into wilderness”, “he went to pray”. For Jesus, there was an active submission to slowing down. He understood that slowing down meant praying, resting, breathing and experiencing his own humanity, he learned to submit to what was. We as Americans are not very good at submitting to what is. It’s why many of us end up freaking out after years of working 60 hours a week. It’s why many of us can’t seem to get over our problems of depression and anxiety. It’s also why many of us can’t sleep at night because we have restless thoughts. We cannot submit to what is. And, we cannot submit to what is, we can’t find the omnipresent God. Thomas Keating writes about the omnipresent God like this “God just is, without any limitation. And, the way to connect with this “Is-ness” is to just be.”
This was the beauty of Jesus. He was able to be, with anyone, at any time, in any circumstance. He was able to be, both God and human with everyone. He was able to bear both the joy and pain of human beings. He was able to love everyone, in passionate celebration or in truthful rebuke. He wasn’t preoccupied with any agenda that wasn’t filled with loving, healing and giving of himself. He sustained this by being present to what was. He wasn’t a control freak. You don’t get whiny commands from him like “If you don’t repent, I am the son of the big guy upstairs and he’ll zap your sorry behind.” This has been the tragedy of religion. Religion produces control freaks. And, the problem with control freaks is their inability to surrender to that “is-ness”.
Jesus made a lot of crazy statements. One of these statements was this “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” Stanley Hauerwas says this about Peacemakers-
“Peace takes time. Put even more strongly, peace creates time by its steadfast refusal to force the other to submit in the name of order. Peace is not a static state but an activity which requires constant attention and care. An activity by its very nature takes place over time. In fact, activity creates time, as we know how to characterize duration only by noting that we did this first, and then this second, and so on, until we’ve either gotten somewhere or accomplished this or that task. Sp peace is the process through which we make time our own rather than be determined by events over which, it is alleged, we have no control.”
In our crazy culture, if we don’t stop and make time, we can’t stop and make peace. No where in the Gospels do we see Jesus performing drive-by healings. Rather, he was patient with his disciples. He sat with the sick and the oppressed. He continued to expose and fight with the Pharisees. It all took time. The tragedy of our American Christianity, is that it still looks like America, fast. We want it now. Jesus was about making time for himself, making time for others and not forcing or controlling others into the kingdom but rather revealing the love, peace and grace that just is.