Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Theology of Leisure

A healthy theology of leisure is often lacking today. Either there is the sinful "lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God" that Paul warned about in 2 Timothy 3, or the worship of work to the detriment of God, family, and all else. As I prepare to leave for a vacation the subject weighs upon my thoughts. What is the correct approach to leisure? Should we feel guilty about taking times away from work or are such times good and necessary?

First, it is essential that we have a high view of work. Work is ordained of God as an essential element of our human existence and we must maintain a high sense of vocation--of calling. When we have a healthy view of work it is sometimes difficult to draw a clear distinction between leisure and work because we find great fulfillment in our calling. In my daily labors as pastor I find great pleasure and enjoyment. However, this is not the same thing as leisure. Work must be combined with periods of rest if we are to maintain a consistent productivity. Not only has God provided one day in seven as a time of rest, there must be other times of leisure. Even our Lord took times of separation and solace in order to pray and separate Himself from His hectic activity. He also spent times of simple leisure. For example, He attended the wedding feast at Cana and did not condemn the celebration as a carnal activity.

It is good to take times to pause from our labors. It is good to pause to refresh ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is good to take times away from our work for times of meditation, for pondering God's goodness and marvelling at His creation. For leisure to be an excellent persuit it is essential that our motives be pure in the areas of both work and leisure. For the person that labors diligently in his vocation times of leisure can be both guilt-free and pleasurable. "Unto the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbeliving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled" (Titus 1:15).

I'm grateful for times of respite; times when I can read with no particular agenda; times when I can relax without maintaining a particular schedule. These are times of refreshing that will allow for a return to work with renewed energy and a heightened productivity.

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