How to Really Rest in a World of Cheap Relaxation (Or Netflix is a Slave Driver)

photo (13)Some days I feel like no one loves me so well as Netflix.

When all the world is stupid, stressful, screaming for more of my time, no one lets me sit and sizzle like streaming entertainment.

There have been days I live for the next episode. I have watched while painting, caulking, crafting, exercising, sitting in waiting rooms, and even breaking at stop lights.

I don’t have any thoughts on where entertainment by television fits into a Gospel life. Sitcoms are art and so are the documentaries and the movies. These are expressions, fallen though they are, of the One whose image we bear. Creativity coming from the Creator, ultimately, whether recognized and invited into the creative process or not.

Yes. There must be some place of healthy appreciation. We love the stories and we were made for Story and someone somewhere is living their story and it gives us art to enjoy and analyze. All things in moderation…

But are we going too far? Are we losing ourselves in the stories because it’s easier than living our own? Are we sinking into the couch when our hands should be at the plow in the plentiful harvest?

And is it just so much easier to slump into someone else’s story and live vicariously the excitement, hilarity, and suspense of a good drama?

What if we have stories that go un-lived because we are drowning them out to the tune of someone else’s theme song?

What if God Himself has offered us rest and it’s better than relaxation?

What if we’re taking the fruit from the serpent, never realizing we could be taking God Himself instead?

bible backpackI think about my Bible, zipped up in my backpack and so easily available because the Word became flesh and made a home here on earth. I think about the Word and I think taxing. I think about Netflix and I think relaxing.

The lie will never change.

That God is holding out on me, exacting dues and penalizing fines on time spent with Him or not. I rationalize, read a little to clear the conscience, and then run back to the screen I think I really want.

Yes. There is a relaxation that costs you your life. It demands you give hours and monthly fees and exchange real people to have it.

And there is a rest even more costly but also freely given. Rest requires a blood sacrifice to appease the wrath of God and it frees you from being a slave to relaxation.

Relaxation is a cheap slave master who will never be satisfied.

Rest is the exorbitant promise of God who offers you perfect satisfaction in Himself. And rest is really only found in obeying, in pursuing the way of God, the way of real rest, rather than the way of self-satisfaction and indulgence.

So sometimes real rest feels like work, feels like a battle, feels like death. Sometimes rest looks like the death of the relaxation idol and turning off the altar at which we worship.

Yes. “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

And it is “all His energy that He powerfully works within me” but it still feels deathly difficult until we do it and find Him preferable to all the lounging and letting go.

Yes, we strive to enter rest because – this.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

The Day is coming when we will give account for all our hours.

The day is coming when He will ask if we worked hard at resting. The Day is coming when we will give account for all our hours. Were they spent bowed down to the gods of relaxation? Or were they laid prostrate in gratitude to the God who bought us rest? Did we work hard because of the rest, giving our lives as invitations to others?

Yes, beloved, the Day is coming when each of these hours will be required and we can say, “Yes, we were blood-covered and resting,” or “No, we were next-episode relaxing.” I tremble and dread the hours spent there.

They are paid for and we are loved. But the ones yet to be lived are hands-stretched-out offering the choice.

Will we beg for hearts to want Jesus more than anything? Or will we bend our knees, along with the culture, to the god of relaxation? Will we pour our lives out for the sake of rest and real people? Or will we forfeit our stories for a few moments of mind-numbing distraction?

Beloved, let’s ask our hearts to sweeten our eyes as they look on Jesus.
Our God is not out to steal from us, to deprive us of joy,
but to serve us with His Love,
the only satisfaction for weary, purpose-desperate hearts.

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