"FAITH IS THE VICTORY!" In Overcoming Boredom INTRODUCTION 1. Our theme in this series of lessons is "Faith Is The Victory!"... a. Based upon the words of John in 1 Jn 5:4-5 b. Proclaiming faith in Jesus as the Son of God as key to overcoming the world c. Not just the world of sin, but anything that might hinder our relationship with God 2. Our previous lesson considered the problem of "anxiety" a. A problem which according to the NIMH... 1) Afflicts more than 23 million people in this country 2) Disrupts work, family, and social lives, with some becoming housebound 3) Is the most common of all the mental disorders b. A problem which faith in Jesus can help us to overcome... 1) For Jesus provides the solution to anxiety by what He taught - cf. Mt 6:25-34 a) Reminding us of God's providential love and care b) Teaching us where to place our priorities in life c) Revealing our own limitations 2) In addition, through Jesus' work on the cross and His current role as our High Priest, He becomes the means by which anxiety can be relieved through prayer - Ph 4:6-7 3. Another problem many people face today is the opposite of anxiety: "boredom" a. Whereas anxiety is a state of uneasiness and apprehension, boredom is a condition of mental weariness, listlessness, and discontent b. Anxiety is often the cause of thinking we have too much to do at one time, boredom is result of thinking there is nothing to do c. Anxiety is more often the bane of adults, whereas boredom is often the complaint of children (what parent hasn't heard their child say, "I'm bored"?) [Like anxiety, boredom can have a debilitating effect in our relationship with God and on our usefulness to Jesus Christ. That is why we must overcome "boredom", and a good place to start is with...] I. UNDERSTANDING BOREDOM A. DEFINING BOREDOM... 1. According to self-proclaimed boredom expert, Garfield the Cat offers these tips on how to tell if you are really bored: a. You paint little faces on your nails, and pretend each finger is a person b. You spend hours watching bread mold c. You braid your eyebrows d. You watch a 3-hour documentary on sewage treatment e. You start playing the spoons f. You wonder if you're really bored 2. More seriously, boredom is: "a condition of mental weariness, listlessness, and discontent" (American Heritage Dictionary) 3. What is of interest is the statement that "the word did not even enter the English vocabulary until the Enlightenment of the 18th century, the beginning of the modern era." (Gene Edward Veith, Boredom and the Law of Diminishing Returns) B. CAUSES OF BOREDOM... 1. Boredom is often the result of too much wealth, and too much time on our hands a. Boredom is epidemic among children today, and according to one source... 1) The problem is television, videos, and computer games 2) Such activities which bombard children with fast-moving stimuli do not give them the chance to slow down, reflect thoughtfully, or learn to process new information (Nancy Samalin, Parent Guidance Workshops) b. Russian women are finding that boredom and depression are side effects of wealth (Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, March 11, 1997) c. "By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed." (Lewis Mumford) 2. Boredom can also be traced to... a. A lack of faith in God ("Boredom: the consciousness of a barren, meaningless existence." - Eric Hoffer) b. A pre-occupation with self to the neglect of what is around us 1) "Boredom: what happens when we lose contact with the universe." - John Ciardi 2) "When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves." - Eric Hoffer 3. Boredom has also been attributed to... a. Unchallenging jobs b. Unfulfilled expectations c. Lack of physical activity d. Being too much of a spectator and too little of a participant in activities C. THE DANGER OF BOREDOM... 1. When listless and discontent, we are susceptible to what promises excitement a. "Boredom has made more gamblers than greed, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many suicides as despair." (Charles Caleb Colton) b. "Boredom is often the motivation for adultery and divorce, abuse of alcohol or drugs, and even suicide." (ibid., Veith) c. "Boredom is...a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it." (Betrand Russell) 2. When a Christian is "bored"... a. He is not very active in his service to the Lord b. He is therefore not very useful to the Lord [Boredom has been called "a chronic symptom of a pleasure-obsessed age." (ibid., Veith). For the Christian with faith in Jesus, it is possible to overcome boredom! Here is how...] II. OVERCOMING BOREDOM THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS A. JESUS CHANGES OUR FOCUS IN LIFE... 1. Boredom is the result of an obsession with self and material possessions 2. Yet Jesus teaches us to: a. Deny self - Lk 9:23-24 1) People who are obsessed with self are never happy 2) People who lose themselves in service to God are never bored! b. Change the object of your affections - Mt 6:19-21 1) The pleasure of earthly things is fleeting at best, followed by the inevitable letdowns - cf. "the passing pleasures of sin" - He 11:25 2) The only permanent possession we have is in heaven, and our affections should be placed on it 3. His teachings are designed to give us great joy - Jn 15:11 ; e.g., Ac 20:35 -- If we have enough faith in Jesus to follow His teachings, we will be attacking one of the root causes of boredom (a pre-occupation with self) B. JESUS ENLISTS US IN SERVICE DESIGNED TO TRULY SATISFY... 1. Many people are bored because they know their efforts mean very little 2. Yet Jesus would have us enlist in a service with eternal consequences: a. The saving of one's soul, and that of those around them! - Mk 16:15-16 b. Which, in proper perspective, is more important than gaining the whole world! - cf. Mt 16:26 3. The apostles found their service to God to be a source of great joy a. When John saw the fruits of his labors, he wrote he had "no greater joy" - 3 Jn 3-4 b. The prospects of seeing his converts in the presence of the Lord gave Paul hope and joy for the future! - 1 Th 2:19-20 -- When one is engaged in the work of Jesus, their labors are not in vain, and have cosmic consequences (cf. Ep 6:12-13 ); how can one be bored with that? CONCLUSION 1. Solomon learned after a life of excess that this world has nothing lasting to offer... a. Though exciting at first, it all proved "vanity" - Ecc 2:10-11 b. He concluded that the true purpose of man was to "fear God and keep His commandments" - Ecc 12:13 -- If he had only listened to his father, David, who wrote about the "great reward" in keeping God's commandments (cf. Psa 19:7-11 ), Solomon might not have experienced so much vanity in his life 2. Boredom is a result of pre-occupation with the "vanity" of this life... a. Jesus came to deliver us from any sense of listlessness and discontent b. He does so by giving us purpose and direction in life, that we might find great joy in serving God and His children! When people are willing to believe in Jesus and become His disciples, there is no reason for boredom in their lives!