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Wellness and salvation

WHEN I lived in Townsville an Aboriginal man told me about the days of cutting sugar-cane by hand. The work was hard, hot and dirty.

When he first started he was keen to get as much done as quickly as possible. He laid into the cane with energy and enthusiasm and was exhausted after a couple of hours. An old hand took him aside and advised, “Son, take time out to sharpen your cane knife”. Sharp cane knives are far more efficient implements and take much less energy.

Often, when I ask fellow Christians how they are, they respond “busy!”. What causes us to be so driven?

Would we be better relaxing more and allowing the Spirit to direct us to the things which really matter?

Christians are called to be witnesses to the reign of God, which entails living and proclaiming personal, social and ecological wholeness. Jesus came to bring life in all its fullness.

The word salvation is linked to the notion of healing and wholeness. Even though we claim salvation by God’s free grace, at times we think it all depends on us and we have this terrible burden of responsibility. As forgiven people, we are good at guilt.

Jesus also called his followers to take up their cross. Some understandings of the atonement suggest that suffering is somehow necessary to bring about a renewal of the world but is that what Jesus meant? I don’t think so.
Jesus also said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Jesus commanded, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”.

Sometimes we have to make tough decisions for our own wellbeing, even survival. This can be difficult for Christians, especially if others are hurt or deprived through our decision. Sabbath-keeping is a biblical command often neglected.

We may not murder or commit adultery, but sometimes we think we can ignore the fourth commandment. For those of us in church ministry there is no clocking on and off. The danger is that we are always available.

We never relax. Our spouse and kids miss out. We burn out. Jesus took time out so what makes us think we don’t need to?

Do we model a balanced life style? Do our actions match our words? Yes, God does graciously invite us to participate in the renewal of individuals, society and creation but it does not all depend on us. We proclaim Jesus as saviour, but often act as if we are.

I am still learning to keep my cane knife sharp, but I’m getting wiser. Many of us need to slow down, go for quality more than busyness.

We don’t need to feel guilty when we take time for refreshment. We need to find what energises and renews us. We can model the reign of God. We can be witnesses for salvation.

Rev Dr Robert Bos is Director of Pilgrim Learning Community