Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Busy-ness Is Really Violence???

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Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University, a former faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, and the founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. His web site describes him as: “speaker, author, sociologist, pastor, social activist, and passionate follower of Jesus!” There are conservatives who think he’s way too liberal, and liberals who get mad at him because he insists on talking about Jesus and the Bible.

Campolo is a powerfully engaging speaker, and – agree with him or no – anyone who hears him knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he spends a lot of time with Jesus (in prayer and study of scripture). I was listening to an interview with him yesterday afternoon on the way home from making a hospital visit yesterday afternoon. Someone asked what advice he would give to seminary students about preaching. The most important thing, Campolo said, was to wait on the Lord. Take time before you preach or teach to be still and open yourself to the work of the Holy Spirit in you.

That kind of waiting is hard in our day and time. We are too busy to be emotionally and spiritually healthy. Thomas Merton wrote:

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence … activisim and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. … It kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
To Merton’s words, Peter Scazzero adds: And in doing violence to ourselves, we are unable to love others in and through the love of Christ. Campolo said we all quote Isaiah 40:31 but very few of us ever practice it. Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates verses 27-31 of Isaiah 40:
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, "God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me"? Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind. (The Message)
That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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