We have heard about Mary and Martha so many times I can't remember which one was too busy to enjoy the presence of the Lord. It still seems that it is basically an ignored teaching. We're still too busy as a people. I think it would be safe to say that we are often at church too much, or not enough. Maybe we just don't know how to stop the wheel of busy-ness.
As humans we have a need for something that fills a void within our soul. Without fixing this malady, we begin to medicate our loneliness with a host of other things. Maybe we're not addicts, but the record shows that we as a culture, indulge in entertainment, the pursuit of money, work-o-holism, overeating, the Internet, pornography, booze, sex, collectables, shopping... the list goes on and on. But what I find interesting when I talk to people; when I stop to say hello, ask how someone is, or invite someone out for coffee, I often hear the same response. They will tell how much they would like to get together, followed by a reason why they can't. I think they are just used to being busy. As a middle-ager, I am looking for less to do not more. On the other hand, I think people would be shocked if we just stopped everything for them. There is a basic need for fellowship, it is one of the things that makes us feel close to God.
The real question is what's missing? "Jesus" you say, and that is a typical Christian answer. For the record you are right, we all need Jesus. Now, let's get real for a minute. Most people that have seen an angel or the Lord Himself, have been frightened. You can find them in the pages of the Bible: Mary, the shepherds, John... trust me, that is not what's missing from most peoples day-to-day. Think about it, if your phone rang right now, who would you want it to be on the other end? If you were to receive a call every day this week, or an invitation for lunch or coffee, who would you want to spend it with? I think that's what is missing.
I often hear about balance, but the real problem is priorities. If you have read your Bible for many years, I think you will see that God wants to be number one. Go to church every day and I believe that you'll find that quickly that your spouse with hands on hips, will eventually be standing there at the door scowling. That's number two; spouse. If you have kids, you know the intense needs that they have. They need everything now! Even when they don't ask, they seem to be into some sort of mischief that needs our immediate attention. I also think that because little ones need so much nurturing, that being with them ends up higher on the list then spouses. But kids are still number three. The men will usually ask, "What about work?" That's number four as family always comes before work. And ministry, leading Bible studies, worship, and teaching Sunday school, that is five, which is followed by recreation, six. You may remember Paul talking about why it was good for him to be single, simply so his second priority could be ministry. Yet he even worked a regular job when needed. With demanding jobs and a plethora of needs, both perceived and real, priorities can be tough.
OK, so you have your priorities in order and something is still missing, then what? We're back to fellowship. God is a relational God. Some of us require more time with our brethren then others, but we all need fellowship. Fellowship is not a Bible study, it is church picnics, game nights, getting together to break bread, grabbing a coffee, working out together or simply hanging out. It might be ministering together at the food pantry, or serving the homeless, but it is engaging with others. It should involve something deeper then small-talk. Jimmy Evans said, "time is the commodity of relationship," How are we spending ours?