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The tension between doing & being

Jesus said a lot of provocative stuff that makes it hard to follow him. Almost half of the book of John takes place in the last week of his life, a time when he was extremely focused. Everything he said laid the groundwork for his death. Read from chapter 12 on sometime and see if it doesn’t chal…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Jesus said a lot of provocative stuff that makes it hard to follow him. Almost half of the book of John takes place in the last week of his life, a time when he was extremely focused. Everything he said laid the groundwork for his death. Read from chapter 12 on sometime and see if it doesn’t challenge you. For those who want to make Jesus “seeker friendly,” his words don’t sound particularly inviting. For example, there’s John 14:6, : “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”
Seeker friendly that. Any way you slice it, Jesus doesn’t water down his tough-as-nails gospel.
Among other things, Jesus told his disciples that they would be hated and persecuted. And he told them to remain in him, connected like a branch to a vine. In other words, we’re to be in a very close relationship with him.
Because we in America are often so focused on getting things done, we can struggle with the balance between being in relationship and actually doing something. I often hear Christians talk about the importance of being rather than doing. We make much of the story of Mary and Martha where Jesus gives Martha a mild rebuke for being busy doing stuff while Mary hangs out.
But Jesus is all about maintaining the tension between doing and being as he prepares to go to his death. Listen to his words in chapters 14 and 15:
” Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.”
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”
“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.”
“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.”
“Go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”
If we feel a tension between doing and being, then Jesus seems to want us to live in it.

Comments (8)

  • I really LIKE this blog. ‘Seems we all tend to fall on either the “being” side or the “doing” side, so it speaks to us all. Perhaps I lean on the “doing” side, because I cringe when I hear too much of the “being” thing when we’ve got a world full of suffering and Jesus looking for hands and feet. Thanks for the great blog.

  • Thanks Seth for the gloriously painful reminder that huge parts of the Good News involve “tensions we manage not problems to be solved”.

  • Loved this Seth, last year I gave a testimony on this topic on a mission trip to Mexico. So much has been written about those two sisters. Should you want to read what I shared then you can go to http://www.faithlessons.multiply.com/notes/item/52

    The balance of a life that is completely sold out to Him is the constant goal of our Christian walk.

  • I believe its especialy true of how it is in the church today , the struggle of relationship with God and a doer of His Word. However I believe there is a solution to it all and that is living daily Holy Spirit filled. Sometimes we become so focused on all the work we are doing for the kingdom not that its not all good stuff we tend to do it on our strength which is the very reason people go back and forth between having the relationship to serving struggling for some common ground . But if we truly lived Holy Spirit filled lifes each and everday I believe the world would start to take notice. after all Jesus says I will send you a helper. And as you quoted John 14 and 15 what is that empowered the disciples to be obedient to this and so imagine if all us in the churches today called out on that same Holy Spirit.. im pretty sure that it wouldnt be any issues with “doing and being” My prayer come Holy Spirit fall afresh after all are we not the carriers of the very presence of the Living God..

  • “We know that we love God when we obey His commands, and His commands are not burdensome.”

    The longer I walk with God the deeper my need of Him becomes-or the greater my awareness of how much I need Him. I know God heals and says “Yes” to many of our prayers. But, when He says “No” and we walk the dificult paths, our assurance of His presence is no less guaranteed. And I agree with this: life experiences are sometimes “tensions we manage, not problems we solve.”

    The call often is to denial, humility, death to some wants….in short, the way of the Cross.

  • I like what you wrote there Kathy. I once had a picture of music notes flying out of my mouth, going up to Heaven and wrapping themselves around the feet of Jesus. Then they moved up and wrapped themselves around His body. I asked Him what it meant and He said “your worship is first for my feet and then for My body.”

    I think somewhere in there is the balance and it comes from priority. “You first, Jesus.” Then out of the “You first” comes the stuff you do. The Lord’s Prayer starts with You first. Our Father in Heaven hallowed be Your Name. Then it’s Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Being is so important because it sources doing. Faith without works is dead, but works without “being” or the “You first” don’t bring life. They come out of our good ideas and intentions. Put them together and you become a channel He can flow through, sap through the vine.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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