a new kind of busy

Posted: December 7, 2011 in Thinking Theologically

“When does being curious distract your heart away from what God wants you to focus on?” There the question was… in big, bold, red letters just seeming to flash at me from my laptop screen. A question that, oddly enough, I wanted to be distracted from answering.

To frame out the question in context, it came from an excellent and thought-provoking article that I came across on The Resurgence, which regularly provides some great material for learning, reflecting and in this case, some heart searching.

In Paul’s first letter to his young apprentice Timothy, he writes, “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” (1 Timothy 5:13)

I’ve typically quickly passed by this verse, thinking it had more application to the “town gossip” and not something I really struggled with. And besides, “idle” is hardly an adjective that would get ascribed to my life… but “busybody”… what exactly is Paul talking about here?

Trisha Wilkerson says, “I hadn’t identified much with this particular sin until God gently revealed the Internet is my “town” to meander. I have found myself “going from house to house” or “website to website” seeking something. Information, book reviews, blogs, Facebook, email, all sucking my time and seducing my attention.

To ignore this comparison is, for me, choosing blindness. Blindness to the fact that I’m tempted to neglect the people and gifts God has called me to pay attention to. Sin is giving in to the temptation to be a busy-body by giving my attention to worthless and sometimes meaningless information that swirls around in my head, taking up mind and heart space that should be occupied by prayers and purpose.”

Ouch. Hits too close to home for someone who not only enjoys technology, but finds it a useful tool for ministry. But where is the line? To be honest, I hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that there actually is a line. In fact, there is a line that when viewed in light of this Scripture, becomes sin. And this isn’t just a sin of time-management. This is a sin of misplaced desire. Idolatry. Finding someone or something else that we think will ultimately fulfill desire or satisfy, yet always ultimately fails us.

So instead of being more deeply connected to God, Wilkerson says, “… we slip into false intimacy and gather knowledge that doesn’t grow us, but instead wastes time. Like greed or lust, busy-bodying is a thirst for more. We are saying to God that he doesn’t satisfy our hearts.”

God came to redeem our time and our time spent on the internet. So that means email, texting, facebooking, blogging and web surfing can and should be redeemed. They should be guarded against trivial idleness or busybodying. Our time and attention are gifts that must be stewarded. Boundaries must be set. Our attention must be refocused on the all-satisfying Christ.

This no doubt will be challenging. It already is as I sit here, oddly enough, on the internet to write a blog post.

You can find Wilkerson’s complete article here… but beware… it’s a challenging read!

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