Book Review

My Review of the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

During August, I took a break from blogging. It was refreshing, and it gave me an opportunity to read more. I discovered a groundbreaking work in The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry (available for $15.99 on Amazon). One of the sermon podcasts I listen to referenced Comer’s book, and a particular quote grabbed my attention.

Comer easily demonstrates that our culture is hurried, and that is not a good thing. In the forward to Ruthless Elimination, John Ortberg cites his mentor, the inimitable Dallas Willard, and his thoughts about hurry. Willard was a Christian philosopher who taught at the University of Southern California. But most importantly, he was gifted at teaching the Way of Jesus, what it meant to practically live the purpose-driven and joyful life Jesus invites his followers to embrace. Willard once wrote the word hurry “involves excessive haste or a state of urgency.” He explained it as a “state of frantic effort one falls into in response to inadequacy, fear, and guilt.” Ortberg associated hurry with the words hurl, hurdle, uproar and hurricane. Willard argued we should aim “to live our lives entirely without hurry. We should form a clear intention without hurry. One day at a time. Trying today.” This objective is completely counter-intuitive to the way we’ve been culturally programmed to think.

Comer argues that you can’t follow the Way of Jesus while being in a hurry. Comer reminds us Jesus is not just the Messiah. He is a rabbi (Hebrew for “teacher”). And as the greatest teacher the world has ever known, He taught his followers to reject the hurried life. In His parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus describes the actions of the would be Israelite heroes (the priest and the Levite) as unloving and failing. Why? Because they refused to love their neighbor by helping their injured countryman. I’m sure in their minds, they were on a mission to do important things. But they were hurried, and they missed the opportunity to do what was most important in that moment–love their neighbor by caring for his physical needs. In his typical plot twist style, Jesus introduced a despised Samaritan as the hero, because he was the one who stopped and helped the man. He rejected hurry and loved his neighbor.

I’ll never forget reading about a research study where seminary students were given an opportunity to help an injured man on their way to deliver a lecture on The Good Samaritan. The students were told they were late for the lecture and should arrive as soon as possible to deliver their lesson. On the way, they passed by a man who clearly needed medical attention, just like the parable of the Good Samaritan. Six out of ten students failed to help the man in need. The researches concluded:

Ironically, a person in a hurry is less likely to help people, even if he is going to speak on the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Some literally stepped over the victim on their way to the next building!). The results seem to show that thinking about norms does not imply that one will act on them. Maybe that “ethics become a luxury as the speed of our daily lives increases.” Or maybe peoples cognition was narrowed by the hurriedness and they failed to make the immediate connection of an emergency.

Comer admits, “All my worst moments…are when I’m in a hurry.” “Love, joy, and peace…are incompatible with hurry.”

“The average iPhone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times a day.” Be right back while I retrieve my jaw…what are we even doing?

Bottom line is we don’t love people when our lives are hurried. So if we’re Christians, we have to radically rethink how we go about our lives. What are we prioritizing? Silly social media quarrels? Endless Facebook or instagram scrolling? Jesus explains how to do live unhurried, focused, and on mission. But that only begins after we (in faith) accept His invitation to depart the hurry train. We were never designed to live hurried lives, and we’re never going to find purpose chasing the wind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

Eliminating hurry starts by going to Jesus. Learning from Him how to approach life. In ancient times, rabbis had “yokes.” A yoke was synonymous with the rules for following the rabbi. Disciples took on a rabbis yoke to follow his lead. Jesus yoke doesn’t weigh us down. In fact, it does just the opposite. It frees us. He carries our burdens and gives us rest for our souls. If you are struggling to understand how to follow Jesus, message me. I am here to help you find the One who gives us peace and rest.

Book rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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