Activity versus Accomplishment

Our church is putting thought and prayer into what church will be like after lockdown.  I have a fair idea of what some of it will be like, and it won’t please everyone. Our vicar has his thoughts, our curate too, so too everyone involved.  I’d like to see the continuation of all the extra communication and online presence and our improved meet & greet.  So I’m doing a bit of reading around all that when I find the inspiration to do so and wanted to share this with you . . .

Activity versus Accomplishment

When the Crystal Palace Exhibition opened in 1851, people flocked to London’s Hyde Park to behold the marvels. One of the greatest marvels back then was steam. Steam ploughs were displayed. Steam locomotives. Steam looms. Steam organs. Even a steam cannon.

Of all the great exhibits that year, the first-prize winner was a steam invention with seven thousand parts.  When It was turned on, its pulleys, bells, and gears made a lot of noise, but, ironically, the contraption didn’t do a thing! Seven thousand moving parts making a lot of commotion … but having no practical use.

With the high-tech era we live in, it’s easy to confuse activity with accomplishment, to be fooled into thinking that the sound of gears and pulleys is the sound of something important being done.

Is that true of your life? Of your church? Are there hundreds, even thousands, of parts spinning and turning and making a lot of noise, but accomplishing very little?

If so, remember that even though your contraption may win a prize at a state fair or the denominational convention, God is the final judge. And what you think has substance may dissipate before His searching eyes like steam.

Swindoll, Charles R. (1988)  The Church: Purpose, Profile, Priorities (Bible Study Guide) . California: Insight For Living.

It resonated with me in so many ways. For instance, at work, with so many people/cogs churning and possibly making lots of noise, but are we achieving anything? Some do, some don’t. Are we accepting or dismissive of change? Are we attempting to maintain our status quo? Are we settled or too comfortable? Is the congregation just going through the motions? Et cetera, et cetera.

It made me sit back and think, try and look from a distance, determine if there are any parts of my life where I am just repeating the same old routine and doing the moonwalk to achieve something where there is no substance.  I believe there are, but breaking out of some constraints I find myself in is not easy – on top of that, I think lockdown leaves us feeling at least twice as restless as we usually are.

Celebrate Recovery adopts the definition of insanity as doing the same things repeatedly but expecting different results each time – it’s one of the lessons we cover among the many steps associated with the Beatitude based principles. I love the insanity of awarding a prize to something overly complex that does not do anything; it’s quirky and reminiscent of whenever we, as a population, are asked to decide something (Boaty McBoatface springs to mind). Still, at the same time, I pity us that we can celebrate something that so clearly illustrates one of our inadequacies.

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
Ecclesiastes 3:17

There’s lots of room for activity, but activity for its own sake will not help us. Ultimately, our perception of success is meaningless.

God judges our activity . . .

. . . and our accomplishments.