Spending Time For The Kingdom

I am still amazed at how we are slaves to time.” 

KENNEDY KING, MAY 2020

Well, that was odd. It wasn’t the usual “good morning” greeting Kennedy sends my way when I arrive at work. Most philosophical musings are saved for after I’ve settled in at my desk and had a cup of coffee or two. 

Everything is about time,” he continued, while I mulled over what he typed. 

After reading his words a couple of times, I had to agree. 

Our society, our lives, everything, it seems, is not only bound by time, it is measured to the exact degree by its passing. And much of that is necessary. 

Time helps us. And the clock helps us measure the time we have. It creates constraints, gives deadlines, and forces us to concentrate on what matters most. 

There is a downside to this as well. 

It can cause anxiety, overwhelming us when we compare all that we desire to do with the perceived time we have. Cut a day into three sections and time slowly dwindles. Eight hours of rest, eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure. There is just never enough time in a day to get everything done we want to.

Knowing we won’t have enough time to do everything must be coupled with the knowledge that it is God who has given us this precious time on earth, and the purpose for which he placed us here in the first place. 

In other words, because we are bound by time, that limitation reveals our hearts. If we say we love God, then it should be reflected in the way we view and use our time.

Seek first the Kingdom of God,” should color how we prioritize time, not how the world does. The desire to be productive all the time, to search for “life hacks” and other shortcuts to growth, can in fact hinder our growth and cripple our need for rest. We are the most advanced society on earth, yet we are also the most sleep deprived, and one of the most depressed. 

What happens when we bring this view of time as money, this deadline driven, productivity prizing culture, into the church? As Kennedy relayed to me, the way we view time can adversely affect not only our own spiritual growth, but how we disciple and how we are discipled as well.

Conversations take time. Cultivating friendships, takes even more. And when we let how the world views time (i.e. time is money) guide our decisions in the church and among friends, people can become one or two things: investments or money pits. They’re either worth our time or they’re not. But that’s what we are called to do. Christ calls us to make disciples. 

But as we know, people are messy. I have spiritual baggage, you have spiritual baggage, we all have spiritual baggage that takes time to remove.

The work of discipleship, of cultivating spiritual growth in ourselves and in others, happens not through neat, orderly, efficient, one-size-fits-all means.

It happens over dinner tables and extended lunch breaks, it happens over midnight phone calls and when you’re there for a friend going through a break-up, grieving a death, or suffering in sickness. These moments – opportunities for growth – happen to us, not at our convenience, but in God’s timing. 

I think Christ’s earthly ministry teaches us two things regarding busyness and time when it comes to discipleship: first, that Christ was indeed busy (especially noted in the immediacy of Mark’s Gospel account which we just studied together). A peripatetic teacher, Christ rarely stayed at the same place for more than a few days or weeks at a time. He was always on the move. The Kingdom of God was being advanced, and He was the one advancing it. He moved, with purpose, from one place to the next, preaching, teaching, and healing his way throughout Judea. 

Second, if you have the time, count how many times Christ was interrupted when he was on this most important of missions. Count and take note of how he responded. Not like I do. Where I see people as interruptions, Christ, as in the case with Jairus, the Roman Soldier, the Syrophoenician woman, etc., took it as an opportunity to help and heal, to listen and respond, to serve and to save.

Here we have our answer to the busyness of the world, because we not only have the supreme example, but also, as Scripture states, though He was fully God, Christ was also fully man, and came in the power of the Spirit, living His life through that power – the selfsame Spirit who now dwells in us: guiding us, guarding us, directing us, enabling us to walk as Christ walked and lived as He did on this earth.

Christ was busy and active, and tired often. But we also read how He retreated from the busyness of the world to recover, recuperate, and pray. He knew when to work and when to rest; how to live in the world but not be of the world; and treated people as humans created in the image of God. 

Since our time on earth is limited, we should consider well what we spend it on. As Kennedy concluded during our conversation at work, the most important use of our time is what we call “Kingdom work.” But what that looks like is different depending on who you are. The Kingdom is advanced by pastors in the pulpit, but it is also advanced by you and me in the workplace, at school, with our children, and in conversations with cashiers, clerks, and baristas; it is advanced in our daily lives. Our time on earth is a gift. We can use it under the wisdom of God, rightly balancing our duties at work, with making and cultivating friendships and furthering the Kingdom.

–Joseph Hamrick
Deacon at C3

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