What do I have time to do? I have faced this question in a new way since our move overseas. Right now it feels as if I barely have time to write this mediation. Why am I taking the time to write it then? And that is the more relevant question – What will I choose to do with my time? Often we lament that we don’t have time to do this or that; but, if we are honest with ourselves, most times it comes down to how we choose to spend our time.
First, what can we learn from God’s Word about how we spend our time? When we look at Jesus’ life, what do we see him doing with the majority of His time? He spent it with people. This is fairly obvious as we read through the gospels. What else did Jesus do with His time? Luke 5:16 tells us that “…he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
We might summarize thus far that Jesus spent most of His time strengthening relationships with both God and man. What did Jesus want for His followers? Jesus clearly wanted His followers to have good relationships with each other (John 17:21). Also, most, if not all of Paul’s letters, addressed in some degree or another relationships within the body. But what do good relationships require? Lots of quality time.
What can rob us of our time and therefore of good relationships? Here is another question we might ask. What is the world’s agenda? It is to separate, cause division, to bring hate, war, and destruction, to destroy relationships. The internet is a powerful time-wasting tool that the ruler of this world uses in accomplishing his agenda.
News – most of it negative and partisan – robs us not only of our time but also does a great job at fostering distrust. Social media allows a much wider range of relationships than ever before possible, and yet probably these relationships are shallower than ever before. There are a million and one things that we can do with our time that do not involve deepening relationships with people right around us. What can we do to change that?
1) Hang out with people. Instead of spending the next 15 – 30 minutes reading the news, go out and ask your neighbor what’s happening in his/her life. Instead of reading yet again of a terror attack by extremists, seek out and befriend “scary” people near you.
Try this experiment. For one whole day, when talking to other people, talk only about their personal lives. Resist the temptation to talk about a mutual friend (e.g. “Oh, did you hear that Joe…”), politics, the game last night, etc. This is terribly difficult to do, if not impossible for most of us. It’s more comfortable to talk about others and things that don’t really matter.
When we stop spending our time/energy on things which we can do nothing about, and don’t plan to do anything about, and instead focus our energy on relationships that we can actually do something about – and by this I’m referring to doing something physically for/with people – that is when we begin to make real differences in the world.
2) Hang in there. Our relationship with God and other believers takes priority over relationships with nonbelievers. The devil delights when we refuse to keep working on difficult relationships and instead seek “greener” pastures. Are we committed to making relationships with other believers work, because we truly care for them? It will take time, and much humility. Do we believe in the powerful witness that spiritual community provides?
Larry Crabb, in his book Becoming a True Spiritual Community, writes: “It’s time to build the church, a community of people who take refuge in God and encourage each other to never flee to another source of help, a community of folks who know the only way to live in this world is to focus on the spiritual life—our life with God and others. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Our impact on the world is at stake” (Kindle 519-521).
Will we make time for what is most important?