We’re in a series on a specific type of sin in our day and age – acedia. It has been confused with laziness, apathy, or even despair. However Early Church Fathers like John Cassian call it The Noonday Demon, and for good cause. It’s like a fatigue of the soul, usually from busywork and distractions. That’s why we’re highly susceptible to it today. Do we kill it like other sins, or counteract it? Cassian suggests counteracting it with spiritual practices. We’ll consider a few common practices, and others that have been forgotten, like Biblical meditation.
i. Set a New Focus
With the sin of Acedia, there is more that we can do. Instead of removing distractions, sometimes we just need to set a new focus.
This may sound different, but instead of trying to take something away, we add something to.
Instead of taking my distraction to the altar, and trying to kill it right there, maybe I’ll start a habit that counteracts it.
Killing vs. Counteracting
Maybe I could start a practice in my life, something I could hold on to that would reorient me or recenter me.
Consider this: at times people have come to me for answers about Biblical meditation. I’ve taught it in college, done a little meditation research, and I’ve practiced it.
Meditation gets a bad rap because some Christians associate it with the East. I would counter with the reminder that Israel’s neighbors to the right on the map are in the East, the Orient. Their neighbors to the left on the map are the West.
It’s not meditating on nothingness because that can get a little weird, but the Scripture is living and active (Hebrews 4.12). If you take hold of Scripture and you meditate on it (repeat it – Hebrew meaning), then you set a new focus.
For instance with some people who have insomnia, they have too many thoughts going through their mind. If they just take one Scripture or passage that they love, they can’t stop all of their thoughts, but they can zone in on one thing they do like. Then everything else calms down and they go to sleep.
This helps us counteract acedia. It’s easy to become fatigued from being overworked as busybodies, and then the mind starts to race. Scriptural, healing meditation centers us.
iii. Prayer, Creation, and FellowshipPrayer can be effective as well. Creation is something that has spoken to me as long as I can remember.
Fellowship with Christians could be helpful if you’re the type of person who likes to stay at home all week. It might be good to join a Bible study. Perhaps you could try being around other Christians as a weekly habit for awhile.
iv. Devotional Literature
For some of you who read through the Bible 17 times in one week, maybe you should back off a little, and just pick up a devotional.
When I was studying Theology and reading heavy books, in one class a different student offered a devotional every day. One student told the class he cannot read through the Bible 20 times per year while studying Theology. He said he picks a simple, fun devotional, and he enjoys his time with the Lord every day.
v. This Season
Make it easy on yourself. Do what God wants you to do in this season. It may be different in the next season, but pick something up that’s ministering to you now.
vi. Good Thing vs. Right Thing
Focus – Sometimes when it comes to God’s work, all we have to ask is:
What is the good thing to do versus what is the right thing to do?
We can chase after a lot of good things, but what’s the right thing to do?
At times, we do too many good things.
Footnotes: Jared V. Ingle, “The Dilemma of the Sin of Omission” (sermon, Harbor Light Christian Center, Traverse City, MI, August 12, 2018).