Chip and Joanna Gaines are back in the news. Critics continue to look for reasons why they would step away from their very profitable television show, but Chip’s explanation is simple: “That’s not what motivates us: more money, more fame, more things. We didn’t really want all of this stuff to begin with.”
Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of Black Monday, the worst day in Wall Street history. While experts believe our economy is safer now than it was then, 85 percent of US adults nonetheless experience some form of financial anxiety. Roughly two-thirds admit that their financial anxiety is negatively affecting their health; 70 percent say it is adversely impacting their home life.
More Americans than ever before are stressed, depressed, and anxiety-ridden. A perceptive commentator noted that “the epidemic of anxiety is not just a mental health issue, but it is also cultural pathology. Our way of life promotes anxiety and its consequences.”
Ministers are not immune from the anxiety of our age. A third of pastors admit that they battle discouragement, fear of inadequacy, or depression. Consider this observation:
“Perhaps the ministry was never busier than it is now. Hundreds of men are hoarse from continual speaking, and are wearied out with running here and running there. If things slow down, we evolve yet another type of meeting. And when this new and added wheel is spinning merrily with all the other wheels, there may be no spiritual outcome whatsoever, but there is a wind blowing in our faces; and we hot and sticky engineers have a comfortable feeling that something is going on.”
Arthur John Gossip wrote these words in 1952. What would he say of our frenzied, over-scheduled church culture today?
By contrast, Oswald Chambers notes: “In our Lord’s life there was none of the press and rush of tremendous activity that we regard so highly, and the disciple is to be as his Master. The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to himself, not public usefulness to men.”
Craig Denison adds: “You’ll find no greater joy, peace, or purpose than in serving Jesus alone. There is no greater life than one lived in full devotion to the King of all the earth.”
I have found that I experience sustained peace and joy in direct proportion to the degree that I am in love with Jesus. When the living Christ is just part of my life rather than the focus of my life, the spokes detach from the hub and the wheel breaks down. When I walk with Jesus through the day, worshiping him and thanking him and asking for his wisdom and depending on his power, I experience a centeredness and deep delight that words cannot express.
Henri Nouwen describes our Lord as the God “who sent his Son to become God-with-us and . . . sent his Spirit to become God-within-us.” Think of it: the God who rules the universe now inhabits your body.
Should we love anyone or anything more than him? Should we work in our power or his?
NOTE: For more on working in the power of God’s Spirit, see Ryan Denison’s A crucial lesson from the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.