I read of an episode where a pastor had to leave a meeting with his mentor to aid in an emergency with a congregant. Before leaving the mentor said, “Remember: you bear the presence of Christ.” The words oriented the pastor, so he was not panicked, adding his own anxiety to the situation, when he arrived.
I was told of a man in a church that announced he was divorcing his wife. The news sent a shockwave through the staff. They began scrambling to determine how to remedy the broken marriage. One pastor wisely announced, “We need to settle down. This does not shake the kingdom of God.” In the face of tragedy or sin it is easy to be squeezed into an attitude that does not correspond with the reign of Almighty God.
The word anxious derives from a word that means choke, tighten, or narrow. Physiologically one can understand the word and its definition because the effect is the tightening of the stomach. Psychologically one can understand the term by a sense of options, responses, and perspective being squeezed. In the extreme, two choices seem to be all there are: fight or flight.
I think speed is closely connected to a stance that matches the presence of Christ and the kingdom of God. There are instances in Scripture where God slows down in crisis. When Israel is trapped between the Egyptians and the Red Sea, God instructs Moses and assures deliverance. However, that deliverance is suspended “all night long” (Ex 14:20). I’m sure it was a long night. Did God really need the whole night-shift to get the sea good and dry?
In John 8 is the story of the woman caught in adultery. Once the accusers finished speaking, Jesus stoops down to doodle on the ground. Jesus seems to actually slow down in the face of sin. How opposite that is to my reaction. Often I feel my energy speed up when facing wrong. I want to spring into action. I want swift justice, a quick remedy. But that wasn’t the way of Jesus in this situation.
The way of Jesus is not anxious. He is not choked by circumstances. His perspective is not narrow in the face of crisis or sin. His perspective is always wide, because Jesus is about salvation. When we join Jesus in his salvation-work we will remember that we bear the presence of a non-anxious Jesus. We will not be easily shaken. We will have the poise of Christ, to even suspend deliverance for a night or, if we need to, slow down in the face of sin.
1. Non-Anxious Evangelism in a Time of Decline
2. The Art of the Non-Anxious Presence
3. The Artist is Present Flickr feed (with the amount of time each participant stayed seated).
4. The Pastor As ‘Non-Anxious Presence’ Rather Than ‘Nervous Reactor’
All the best,