What is your most precious resource?
Is it money? Property? Bitcoin? Perhaps. But I suspect that in a world of increasing busyness, when the lines between work and rest are blurred by technology, when there is always another email, another podcast, another post, another opportunity, that the one resource you wish you had more of is time.
You feel it, don’t you? Not all the time, but acutely on some occasions. Like when you look at old pictures of your children and wonder when they got so big. Or when you hear of the funeral of someone you went to school with. Or even when you come to the end of a day and have barely made a dent in your to-do list. On all these occasions and more you feel the limited and fleeting nature of time.
Maybe that sense is part of our obsession with time. We want to know what time it is, how much time is left, and when specific things are going to happen. We get frustrated when people are late and when meetings run long and when unexpected things pop up in an already crowded calendar. We are very, very concerned with time. That’s true regardless of whether you are a Christian or not.
To be sure, that concern with time is not all bad. Like any resource, time is something that is meant to be stewarded for the sake of the kingdom of God:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16).
At the same time, though, Christians should think differently about time than the rest of the world. And one of those differences is this – the Christian should be less concerned with time than with order. By way of example, consider what Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica:
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thess. 5:1-3).
Evidently there were those among the church who were obsessed with the exact timing of the return of Jesus. They wanted to know – and perhaps were spending considerable energy trying to find out – the exact date on the calendar about when it would happen, and Paul wanted something else for them. The main reason why they didn’t need to be investing their energy in this issue of time is the fruitless nature of such an investigation. Paul makes it clear that we simply won’t know the timing.
We will, however, know the order.
We don’t know the calendar date of Christ’s return, but we do know the order – that it comes next. How long between now and next? We don’t know, and that’s precisely the point. Not knowing the timing, but knowing the order, motivates us to live with a sense of urgency. It creates a posture of expectation and anticipation rather than giving us the luxury of laziness.Let’s learn from these words of Paul. Let’s be less concerned with exact timing and more concerned with order so that we can live like next might be right now.