Getting the time wrong can make a big difference in life.
I still remember one morning as a kid getting out of bed, getting dressed in my school uniform, going downstairs into my parents’ room… to find Mum and Dad still in bed. It was a Saturday! I’d totally lost track of the day. Even now, I remember feeling so thrown by it and maybe even a smidge disappointed!
We went cherry picking for the first time last year. It’s incredible just how many cherries load up on those trees! When Christ died and rose to life again he ushered in a new era of history. The Scriptures talk about his resurrection being “the first fruits” of ours. Just as the appearance of the first cherry on a tree shows the season is coming and that more cherries on their way, Jesus’ resurrection shows that one day soon when Christ returns we too will be raised (1 Cor 15:20).
We are living in resurrection season, waiting for the rest of the harvest to come. This means we need to change our clocks. No longer are we counting up the years, months and days. No longer are the events of our own lives the primary points of reference for where we stand on the timeline. Now we are counting down to the day of Jesus’ return. It is the events of his life that orientate where we fit in. And that changes things.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 13:
“…you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand.” (Rom 13:11-12a)
He is counting down to salvation day. On that day, those who trust Jesus, who by sheer grace have already been declared innocent based on his life and death in our place, will be saved from God’s anger (Rom 5:9) and be glorified with Christ in the new creation (Rom 8:17). The first light of that day is almost creeping over the horizon. Dawn is about to break.
So, Paul goes on, “let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Rom 13:12). And how do we put on the armour of light? By living godly lives (v. 13). By putting on Christ (v. 14). Just like a migrant who prepares for their new home in advance, we seek to live the lives now that will belong in glory then. And it is this new mindset that gives the framework for our final few time travelling tips.
1. Stop putting too much on
In this new era we are to put on Christ, be like him. I wonder if at times we run ourselves ragged trying to put on other identities: the domestic goddess, the gym junkie, the career conqueror. While aspects of these things do overlap with putting on Christ—it is godly to be a good worker, a loving host, good stewards of our bodies—when we cling too fiercely to these identities and their extra standards rather than to Christ, we can run into trouble.
2. Remember efficiency does not equal godliness
Our western culture worships efficiency. We’re on the hunt for shorter short cuts and hackier life-hacks so we can squeeze every drop of progress out of our days. We can start to think that efficiency is a form of godliness, that the more efficient way is always best, that (to reshape the old phrase) efficiency is next to godliness. But it’s not. Holiness is next to godliness, and on the other side is patience, self-control and kindness. And those things can be s-l-o-w. There is nothing godly about speeding just to get to church on time or rudely cutting across someone in a meeting to get to the point quicker. Efficiency does not equal godliness.
3. Give time to purpose
Ironically, while our culture worships efficiency, we’re also addicted to distraction. (As an aide, I’ve been very challenged by Tony Reinke’s book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You.) It staggers me how much time I flitter away on my phone, Facebook, blogs… without any purpose. Time is a gift from God and I dread to think how much I’ve accidentally given away to vacuous home decor blogs or advertising execs chasing online sales rather than in purposeful, loving relationships. There is a time for rest, but I want that rest to be purposeful and genuinely refreshing rather than 48 minutes of nothing-in-particular. Praise God that in this new era there is so much more to live for.
You only live twice, make it count
The night is almost over, but we don’t need the sunnies yet. As we saw in part 2 of this series, we still live in a world darkened by sin, the curse and death. We’ve been called and equipped to put aside works of sin. But not only that, Christ’s death and resurrection means there is work we can do that isn’t in vain. It’s the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58)—the work of advancing the gospel among unbelievers and establishing believers in the gospel. That could mean discipling the little people in your life (be they yours or others’), writing that gutsy gospel email to a friend, practically supporting missionary work (Phil 2:30).
These are the kinds of things that have a glow about them that will keep shining into our new life in the new creation. Big or small, these are the things that will we still be echoing long after that great trumpet call.
“Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always be abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58)
Beloved, steadfast, abounding… now that’s the way to travel through time.