Have you ever wondered why millions of people watch soap operas on television?  The answer, it seems to me, is not difficult to find.  Our real lives tend to become so dull and drab, but those people on the screen lead lives of daily intrigue and romance.  So people by the multiplied thousands sit before their televisions and escape from the world of monotonous reality into a world of exciting fantasy.

          For some people, even religion can be used in somewhat the same way.  We live in a world of harsh realities.  Problems seem to outnumber solutions by a ratio of about ten to one.  On an almost daily basis, we experience fear and disappointment, pain and rejection. The Christian faith can become a safe haven from these unpleasant facts.  There we are assured that God loves us, accepts us, forgives us, and will someday solve our problems by taking us to heaven to live with Him. 

          Certainly, we all need love, acceptance, and forgiveness.  But when our Christian faith is used only in this way, it becomes terribly selfish.  Jesus never used His faith in God as an escape from life.  To the contrary, it led Him into the thick of life.  He could and, on occasion did, pray all night.  But always, He would go from that secret sanctuary of prayer back into the field of daily life.  His religion was never an escape from struggle, but an inspiration and strengthening for it.  If we would be His followers, ours must be the same. 

          Look for a moment at the story of Martha and Mary in the Bible.  Martha was doing a job but seemed to have forgotten why she was doing it.  She had welcomed Jesus into her home.  He was her guest.  She was His hostess.  Her task and, no doubt, her desire was to give Him a brief time of relaxation.  But the purpose of the task had somehow gotten lost in the doing of it.  Probably the atmosphere was anything but relaxing, with an angry hostess at the point of tears, complaining because her sister would not help with the work. 

          The significance of any task is not simply the doing of it, but the way in which it is done.  An eight-course meal that is prepared with obvious effort, served with grudging resentment, and eaten in awkward silence is not nearly so enjoyable as a sandwich that is made with a song, served with a smile, and eaten amid friendly conversation.

          Our service for Christ must be something more than the doing of our duty, or else it will become sheer drudgery, and will lose both its effectiveness and its meaning.  Hard work by itself does not get the job done.  There must be some joy and some overflow.  At times, we need to stop our efforts and sit quietly at the feet of Jesus, renewing our strength and deepening our faith.

          Hard work is a necessary part of living, but it is certainly not the whole of life.  Hard work cannot heal a broken heart.  Hard work cannot relieve a guilty conscience.  Service to Jesus requires depth of spirit just as surely as it requires diligence of effort. 

          There are times when we need to roll up our sleeves and go to work.  There are other times when we need to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him.  Do we do both?