how long does it take to get to the cross?

Generally when reading the bible, you do so in small chunks – maybe a chapter at a time, maybe in even shorter passages. This helps you to focus on the small picture; the details; and see what particular phrases mean. To get a bigger picture, though, it can be helpful to read larger sections. As part of college study this year, I’ve been reading the gospels – sometimes in one sitting, I’ll read an entire gospel: 16, 21, 24, or 28 chapters in one hit.

Not wanting to do merely one thing at a time, I read a couple of these gospels while at the gym. I think I read Matthew on a treadmill (walking pace), and Luke on an exercise bike.

Each gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) was written by a different author. Each – in case you’ve never read one – has some kind of introduction, perhaps with some genealogies, perhaps not, some descriptions of Jesus’ miracles interspersed with records of Jesus’ teachings. Each gospel ends with the narration of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial(s), crucifixion and resurrection.

What impact does an exercise bike have on reading a gospel? When you’re getting your heart-rate up, and you’re not allowing yourself to stop until the reading task is completed, and you’re sitting on an uncomfortable exercise bike seat – you’re not trying to analyse anything; you’re not trying to read too closely. You’re just waiting for the gospel to end.

Now when you’re reading something all the way through in one sitting, it defeats the purpose to just flick to the end and say "Ok. I’ll get off the bike now". You have to keep reading; heading towards the finish line. I already know that the gospel is going to conclude with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and I really want to get off the exercise bike. What’s the inevitable result?

I find myself barracking for Jesus to be crucified.
I want to skip through the latter half of Jesus’ teaching; the parables; and just go straight to the end.

It occurs to me that this is not a good thing for a Christian to be thinking. To be overwhelmed with the injustice of the cross is okay, to be grateful for the offer of forgiveness that goes with it, yes, but to be chanting "Get on with it" seems somehow to be a wrong response, but one that I’ve brought on by trying to be too busy.

It makes me wonder: what is the high price that I’m paying for all of this busy-ness? In my haste to keep occupied with something all the time, am I missing out on things of more value? How important is being busy to you?

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3 Comments

  1. I can understand where you are coming from having visited there a few times myself but like you have come to the same realisation when some little thing sets me thinking or maybe it’s how I feel (tired) and then when I count the cost I don’t think it’s worth missing out on anything the Lord has given me day to day to experience just because I wanted to keep busy. An old saying springs to mind “stop and smell the roses sometimes before the bloom and fall away”. Everything in moderation I guess.

  2. I find if I don’t keep busy I get depressed, because for my warped brain, non-busy=no friends=useless person!

    That being said, I’m often finding that I”m bored by the gospels – bored by Jesus – bored by it all! How sinful am I?

    I am only grateful that at least my church has great sermons, both morning and evening, and my Thursday lunchtime bible study we get to talk about whatever strikes us about the passage – and it can be something different.

    I’m becoming a “entertain or I’m not interested” Christian.

    AWFUL. Just awful.

  3. Busyness creates its own paradox (unfortunately, unlike the hedgehog’s dilemma, I don’t know which animal to illustrate it with). This is: 1. If you’re not doing something all the time, life is trivial. 2. However, to fill up all the empty “cracks” of spare time, you have to do trivial things.

    So you can end up in a situation where life wihtout constant activity is meaningless (based on the famous equation “Doing Nothing = Meaningless”), but to avoid that meaninglessness, we take up meaningless activity to fill the time.

    Or, to put it another way, better the emptiness of a life filled with empty but time-consuming tasks, than the emptiness of a blank diary.

    Of course, if you’re thinking there’s some flaw with this paradox (and you may well), then to move beyond it, you’ll need to grapple with three questions:

    1. Is there such a thing as “doing nothing”?

    2. Even if there was, would it really be meaningless?

    3. What would God think of all this? (I know, I know . . . it’s not a fair question.)

    Either way, I think it’s back to you, Dave, with these questions.

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