Reflection on 40 Days with Wesley by Rueben Job
Day 35: Tension Between Being and Doing
I really appreciated Job’s recognition that both being and doing are important components of faith development. Too many times we live in a binary of focusing on one or the other. We align with Mary or Martha. Job stresses that as Christians we are called to live in the tension between being and doing because both are necessary for us to become Christ-like.
I feel like Job’s juxtaposition of being and doing falls a little short. Separating the two into social holiness and personal piety is too simplistic for me. I agree that we need spend time loving neighbor and loving God. Perhaps, what I longed for was more explanation of social holiness. I don’t think serving, solely as an act of “doing,” necessarily creates the social holiness that Wesley aspired when he talks about the one providing service as laboring “to do good to their souls…to awaken those that sleep in death” (First Wesley Reading). The latter phrase reminds me of the prophet Ezekiel’s prophesy of dry bones coming to life.
It is possible to serve at an arm’s distance away—to meet a physical need by politely serving a meal, handing someone a sandwich, providing a bus pass, or giving some spare change. These provisions are important. Sometimes they are truly life sustaining. It is possible to walk away from serving at an arm’s distance away feeling good about oneself and all that one has done to work hard, make good choices, and not end up like the one needing served, without God ever entering the picture.
How much more powerful it is when being and doing are interwoven! The dry bones of the server and the served come to life when service also includes being—opening oneself up to being in intimate relationship with one being served—opening oneself up to being served by the one for whom you come to serve. Intimacy can come in the form of eye contact, a hug, taking time to stop doing and intently listen to the other persons’ story without trying to fix them—just being present—and sharing something about ones’ own life in the course of the conversation.