How often have you heard about the importance of a work-life balance? I’m always tempted to point out that I’m very much alive at work. In a similar way people often talk about ‘doing’ and ‘being’ as if the two are distinct, usually with the implication that ‘being’ is somehow superior. I’m well-aware of the danger of becoming overwhelmed and consumed by activity, but I worry that by separating the two we portray ‘being’ as something terribly passive.
John’s Gospel is well-known for Jesus’ statements about his own ‘being’. ‘I am the true vine…the good shepherd…the light of the world…the bread of life.’ In each case, the phrase tells a whole story. He is bread that comes down from heaven and gives up his life, his flesh, so that we may eat and live. Everything about who Jesus is, then and now, is wrapped up in where he’s come from, his relationship with his Father, and his sacrifice that draws us back into that relationship. I find nothing passive in this sort of ‘being’. In fact, it sounds like hard work – creative, glorious, life-giving work.
This is a month when many of us who work will be taking a break. It is also the church’s ‘ordinary time’ when we break from the frantic activity of special days and seasons. So, maybe this is an ideal time to consider our own ‘I am’ statements? To concentrate on truly ‘being’. Being in relationship with God and with our neighbour, being blessed and being a blessing, receiving life and sharing the living bread. Could this be the perfect work-life balance?