The great philosopher, Ferris Bueller, once quipped, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Undoubtedly, many of you would describe your day-to-day as busy, hectic, or even chaotic. I’m certainly not endorsing all of his shenanigans, but I think Ferris was on to something. But if slowing down is important, why don’t we do it more often?
Perhaps it’s because slowing down is counter-cultural. In most of the spheres we operate in, success is measured by how much we can get done. In addition to living in a culture that highly values productivity, we are prone to find our identity in what we do. The combination of a culture geared toward productivity and a heart predisposed to find purpose and meaning through achieving is destructive. If production is the standard by which we measure worth and value, then slowing down threatens our well-being.
This “do more, never slow down, find your identity in what you do” way of living significantly impacts our ability to grow in Christ. It’s easy to approach sin and struggle by asking, “What do I do to grow?” We want an easy-to-implement plan with clear direction and attainable goals. And we want immediate results. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with a good plan. The problem is not the plan but rather what we tend to prioritize in the plan.
First Things First
Colossians 3:5–17 is one of the most popular passages for understanding sanctification. Paul’s famous paradigm of “put off/put on” is a beautiful picture of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. There is great hope in this passage. The reality that our lives can be marked by compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, a forbearing spirit, and love (Col. 3:12–14) is truly remarkable, especially in light of the destructive actions and attitudes listed earlier in the text. The combination of a culture geared toward productivity and a heart predisposed to find purpose and meaning through achieving is destructive. Click To Tweet
But this is easier said than done, right? Try telling someone stuck in a pattern of sin to “just stop it” and see how they respond. I don’t think a light bulb will go off for them. It’s easy to look at Paul’s plan of sanctification in Colossians and quickly jump into a conversation about what needs to be put to death and what needs to be put on. But if our actions are the starting point, we are missing the foundational step that makes putting off and putting on possible.
Learning from Hot Tubs and Crock Pots
What do you do when you get into a hot tub? You sit still and let the water do the work. The beauty of a hot tub is that it requires little to no effort. When you put a pork shoulder in a crock pot, what does it do? Nothing. It sits there, soaking up spices and liquids as the crock pot transforms it into a delicious meal. This is the picture we get in Colossians 3:1–4.
The Bible instructs us to set our minds on things above. If we want to put off the works of the flesh and put on the works of the Spirit, we have to sit still and allow our hearts and minds to soak in the glory of Jesus. Although it seems counter-productive, growth requires us to slow down. If we prioritize doing over communing with Christ, we end up operating out of our weakness instead of the Lord’s strength.
Christ Is Your Life
Colossians 3:4 is especially important as we think about sanctification: “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Think about that for a moment—Christ is your life. There might not be a more profitable endeavor for you this week than to ponder the riches of that truth. Money isn’t your life. Safety isn’t your life. What you produce isn’t your life. Your spouse and kids aren’t your life. Your reputation, comfort, thriving church, or good mental health aren’t your life.
Our union with Christ is so high, so deep, and so wide that he becomes our very life. Soaking up the glory of Christ transforms us and enables us to live like him. To put the flesh to death, we have to drown it in what is heavenly by setting our hearts and minds on Jesus. Although it seems counter-productive, growth requires us to slow down. Click To Tweet
Growth in Christ requires us to slow down. As you work out your salvation with fear and trembling, seek the things that are above. Set your mind on the Lord Jesus Christ. Savor his goodness, bask in his glory, and soak up the grace of an infinite God who takes pleasure in making you new.