By Brock Bondurant
Reading the accounts of Jesus’ life, one can see that he walks with patience, kindness, and love, without envy, selfishness, or irritability. By closely examining the Way in which he lived, you will be able to see how he came to embody those loving qualities while avoiding those that are unloving. Looking at his life with special attention to his lifestyle, you’ll see one more absent, unloving quality. Anxiety.
Yes, anxiety! The true “pandemic” of our age – Jesus walked around like he had the vaccine. Jesus isn’t plagued with anxiety and he doesn’t want others to be either. In fact, in Luke 12:22, he commands us to “not be anxious”. How’s that working out for you? Chances are, like other commands or resolutions (be patient, be a better listener, etc.), it’s not going well. What if God wants us to become the type of person that is less anxious through practice? This is the model we see throughout Jesus’ life as he invites people to be his disciples, or students, or even better, apprentices. This adventure in discipleship (apprenticeship) is known as: Practicing the Way of Jesus. We seek to become like him and, as one byproduct, be freed from anxiety. One way is by becoming unhurried. As Carl Jung once said, “Hurry is not OF the devil. Hurry IS the devil.” Seems like hurry is a good place to start.
Have you ever switched lanes at a stop light based on the number of cars in each lane or swerved into the left lane just to pass the car in front of you even though you have an upcoming right turn? Do you ever ask yourself, “Why am I in such a hurry? What is being in a hurry doing to me?”
Take a look at John 11. Here we find Lazarus, Jesus’ good buddy, ill.
“ 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place he was.”
Lazarus is sick enough that people are talking about it, yet when Jesus gets word, he stays. Stays calm, yes, but more bodily stays where he’s at two more days. Now, although Jesus knew that this illness would ultimately not “end in death” (verse 4), we see him unhurried; non-anxious when others were a little excited. And they had reason to be. By the time Jesus arrives (verse 17), Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days! (If you know the rest of the story, people aren’t exactly happy with Jesus not getting there in time. But, Jesus speaks three words and Lazarus walks out of the tomb – alive. Celebration ensues.)
How can we practice becoming unhurried ourselves?
Try something simple on your way home tonight: drive the speed limit. Stay in your lane. Come to a complete stop at stop signs. If you go to the grocery store, find the longest line at checkouts instead of jumping lanes as you judge the number of people in line and the efficiency of the cashier. Speak to the cashier, and even better, listen (they call that conversation).
As you do these, you might have a couple of experiences. One being that when you drive the speed limit people may get aggravated. Over the last year I’ve begun this practice and it’s weird how pushy people get when I simply obey the speed limit (is a 50mph speed limit through the middle of town really too slow?).
The other that you hopefully experience over time is unhurriedness, and with that unhurriedness less anxiety, more gratitude, and more capacity to commit loving actions. Like listening for example: the cashier might really need that. These simple practices, with right intent, can help you to become more loving.
As we train to slow down and become unhurried, we will experience something similar to Jesus. Others might not appreciate our pace. Jesus, and his true followers, are often times counter-cultural. Remember that Jesus still rubs a majority of people the wrong way, despite his loving nature. But what if besides arriving 7 seconds later at their destination, others will also experience a non-anxious, more loving presence when they interact with us?
I’m not inviting you to drive slower or spend a couple more minutes in line just for the sake of doing it or ticking people off. I’m also not saying that by driving slower you’ll turn into Jesus. No, I’m pointing to something much deeper, the same way that Jesus’ unhurried lifestyle was about more than taking his time. Simply put, the things we do, do something to us. When we become unhurried through different practices like this, we allow more capacity to love. We won’t experience this transformation overnight, but over time, through practice, we can become more like Jesus, learning to love.
Love, according to Jesus, is the greatest commandment. When you’re in a hurry, how loving are you?
I’ve never loved well when in a hurry. Jesus is never in a hurry. His love is perfect. And I want to become like him.