Wednesday, 8 August 2012

God-honouring Relaxation

My good friend Neil Todman, Pastor of Headley Park Evangelical Church, has written a supberb article for this month's edition of Evangelical Now on how to make our leisure time more godly.

His central challenge is for us to all stop and think about what we have come to expect relaxation to look like.

For me, relaxation has come to mean ‘watching TV’. And I am not alone. The average Brit watches four hours and 18 minutes a day. If Marx was alive today I don’t think he would be down on religion. Comparatively it is irrelevant in our country in terms of shaping people’s worldviews. I think he’d hit TV, saying: ‘Television is the opium of the people in a cruel and heartless age’. The Nazis produced endless dramas, romances and comedies to be shown in the cinemas to keep their people placated in the evenings and at weekends, and our culture does the same.
Quite a challenge!

However, Neil's article is not a guilt trip, it is far more positive than that.

So much Christian analysis of culture ends up making any Christian who is in anyway engaged with culture feeling unhelpfully guilty. As a result many Christians feel that unless they adopt an Amish lifestyle, completely cut off fom the world, they cannot be godly! How different from the Lord Jesus who was fully immersed in his culture (so much so that he was criticised by the legalists of his day - Matt 11:19) and yet stood out as attractively different. 

Neil encourages us to be the same when it comes to how we think about our down time. I was made to re-think what I expect from relaxation.

Maybe part of the problem is with the word ‘relaxation’ itself. It is so tainted by self-centredness and self- indulgence. I think what we actually need is ‘refreshment’. I love the verses in the New Testament which credit people with refreshing the hearts of the saints.

In the busyness of life we need nothing more. Weariness is a persistent threat in the Epistles. So we need refreshment in the mornings as we face the demands of the day ahead. We need it during the day, as we travel to and from work, and as we have breaks from our assigned tasks during the day. We need it in the evenings as we are able to decide what we do with that precious time. We need it at the weekend, and especially on Sundays, when many of us have the opportunity to meet with God’s people to praise the name of Jesus, hear him speak from his Word, and meet him in the lives of our brothers and sisters in a sustained way that simply isn’t possible during the rest of the week.

And how do we get this refreshment that we so need?

Why not read the article for yourself to find out?


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