Last Sunday we launched a new series at Restoration City called “Margin”. It’s a series about creating space between our limits and our load. It’s about having a little something left in the tank at the end of the day financially, emotionally and in our calendars. It’s about not being maxed out, stressed out and on the road to being burnt out.
It’s a series we desperately need as a church. And it’s a series that’s intentionally counter cultural. Washington, DC isn’t known for cultivating margin; it’s known for devouring it. And Restoration City seems to attract people who go pretty hard at life – we want to get the most out of every day and we want to make our lives count as much as possible for the glory of God. So, I’m not surprised that some of us are struggling with whether or not we should even be worried about creating margin.
If you’re not sure why this whole margin thing matters, let me give you five reasons:
- Obedience. I tried to make this case out of Leviticus 19 last Sunday. Even if you found that less than compelling, we all need to wrestle with why God would have made honoring the Sabbath the 3rd commandment. I know a lot of Christians who like to answer that we’re no longer under law but under grace (true) and that Sabbath doesn’t apply today (less true). But, even if that is true, it still begs the question of why God included taking a day off on a short list of things that tell us how humans are designed to function. At least when it comes to time, we need to consider to what extent margin is purely an obedience issue.
- Promised Blessing. This is where I was going with Deuteronomy 24:19, “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” God seems to be very clear in His Word that when we trust Him enough to create margin, he does more with our time, money and relationships that we ever could if we tried to max ourselves out.
- Health. Truth be told, I thought margin was for wimps when I was in my 20’s. It was the kind of silliness that people with nothing to do came up with to justify their laziness. I was wrong. And I started to pay for it in my 30’s. I didn’t make time for the gym, so my energy levels suffered. I had run so hard for so long, that I was losing my joy. I hadn’t saved as much as I should have and I was way more tired at 30 than I should have been. Something had to change – and adding margin to life was that something.
- Mission. When I say mission, I don’t just mean trips, defined serving opportunities or leadership roles in the church. I mean personally building relationships with non-Christians, sharing the gospel with them and celebrating their baptisms. When people push back on margin, I often ask them how many people they lead to faith last year. When that gets awkward, I ease up and ask how many non-Christian friends they have and are investing in. It’s usually in that 2nd round of awkwardness that people feel the need to create some margin for the sake of the gospel!
- Gospel. Creating and defending margin in our lives is both a response to and a reminder of the gospel on a daily basis. It’s a reminder that our hope in life is not in our effort, but in God’s grace. Jesus isn’t calling us to build a life on our sufficiency but on his. Unscheduled time, uncommitted dollars and meaningful relationships are both the reward of a life that trusts in Jesus and a reminder to trust in Jesus. Margin is about gospel consciousness.
Margin isn’t about being a lazy slug. It’s about working really hard on things that really matter in a way that shows that Christ really is our hope. That’s what I want for you, for our church and for my life.
See you on Sunday….we’ll be talking about time! You won’t want to miss it!