Have you ever known someone you would consider a sloth? Whenever I hear that word, a specific person from my high school comes to mind. This person was only interested in playing video games and watching TV. In school, this person did the absolute minimum to slide by, was lazy at work, and took an overall apathetic approach to life.
Someone who is an “ordinary” sloth strives to be ordinarily entertained, and in the same way, a spiritual sloth strives to be spiritually entertained. In both cases, the end result is an increasingly higher entertainment demand on the part of the indulged audience. Ultimately, sloth is a lack of purpose and passion.
However, have you ever considered the root of the sin of sloth? The original term in Latin is acedia, which means more than simply being lazy. This term actually refers to running way from God’s calling. It is blatantly ignoring the gifts that God has given to us, thus choosing to remain at the same level (no matter how low) for the rest of our lives – even if God is trying to lead us to a calling that is higher, more satisfying, or even more fitting for us.
Another way in which sloth can manifest itself is through hyperactivity. While this may seem like the opposite of “sloth,” it can actually be a symptom of this sin. Many times, people aren’t willing to reprioritize their lives that would ultimate benefit the body of Christ; they might say they aren’t “able” to take on something, while what they really mean is that they aren’t willing. They prefer to be distracted by things which they deem as important rather than realign their lives with God’s calling. “If not redirected, the natural desire for renewal almost inevitably leads to sloth, which manifests itself in indifference toward God and others” (The 3 Colors of Community, p. 83).
Thankfully, there is a way to counteract the negative effects of the sin of sloth: through passionate spirituality. Passionately spirituality transforms energy and provides renewal through our Heavenly Father. “The crucial term is ‘passionate.’ It implies expressing our faith with intensity – including laughter, suffering, joy, and pain. It is the antipode to ‘entertainment.’ Passionate spirituality is involvement, participation, discipleship. You are no longer a spectator in a show called ‘church,’ but you are the church” (The 3 Colors of Community, p. 85).
How can we achieve passionate spirituality? The remedy to sloth is leaning courageous endurance, long-suffering, and perseverance. These three anti-consumerist, anti-entertainment characteristics are at the center of passionate spirituality.
Take some time to prayerfully consider your own “busyness.” Is it possible that you are suffering from the sin of sloth in this way instead of through laziness? What steps can you take to make your spirituality more “passionate?”