In 1978, Alexander Solzhenitsyn addressed the graduating class at Harvard saying, “Many of you have already found out what others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us as soon as our concentration begins to flag, all the while leaving the illusion that we are continuing to pursue it.” I believe this holds true for the Western Church today. Much like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, we have heaped rules and regulations onto the teachings of Christ. In the centuries that have followed His death, Christianity has often looked little like its namesake. Instead of being an all-inclusive people loving and serving others in their desperation, we have become somewhat of a closed society, a secret handshake club that does our best to keep the world at bay. We have lost our concentration on the person of Jesus and have been lulled to sleep, convinced that we are still pursuing His truth.
Time and again I have to remind myself to remember what really matters. No matter what’s going on in my life or yours, what we are doing for Jesus is all that will count in the end. So many things fill our days and compete for our attention that it is all too easy to have our time consumed by everything but Christ. Several days or even a week or more can roll by before I recognize this issue creeping into my life. It’s particularly bothersome when my starting point is always to do something for Jesus, and along the way, Jesus gets left behind. We start moving in our own strength and following our own ideas instead of moving in sync with Him.
I recently watched Nick Wallenda walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Beyond the amazing spectacle of the feat, it held a special significance to me as I used to live only ten minutes away from where he walked across. I’ve seen the enormity of the rocks and heard the thunderous crash of the waters first hand. Having ridden a boat that carried me to the base of the falls, I am fully aware of the amount of mist he had to deal with during his crossing. All these things made the breathtaking event that much more intense and incredible to watch. Beyond all of this, I was struck by Nick’s faith and began thinking how life is essentially a tightrope. It is perilous as we walk along the narrow way; we face constant trials that threaten to knock us off balance and perhaps even push us to our death. Watching Nick Wallenda traverse the mighty falls, however, I noticed three key principles he followed that allowed him to accomplish his mission. We can apply these same principles to our walk with Jesus.
We all have 24 hours each day with which to serve the Lord. No one gets any additional time, no one any less. The reason some folks seem to accomplish so much more for Christ is not because they have found a way to get more time, but rather have decided to be intentional with the use of the time they have been allotted. In the Western culture, everything is geared towards personal recreation and satisfaction. We have become a society inclined to entertainment; we work hard to afford the latest gadgets, televisions and music systems. Each new peripheral brings with it a brand new set of distractions, and with those, less time to spend serving the One we claim is Lord of our life.
Until we consciously choose to follow Jesus above all else, we will never find the time to serve Him. The pressures of work, friends and family consume us, and we have a tendency to fill in whatever gaps we have with personal entertainment. We acknowledge Jesus with our lips, but our lifestyle tells a different story. We have been so blessed, but the blessings haven’t been good enough for us. We crave more and more and honor Jesus less and less.
Entertainment has become the idol of our age. We would rather spend time watching reality TV than participating in the true reality of people dying every day without the hope and love of Jesus Christ. We escape the world through the music of our iPods instead of immersing ourselves in the Spirit of God. We embark upon quests vicariously through video game consoles when we could actually be taking part in the greatest adventure of all, engaged in the mission of Christ to redeem a lost world. We have exchanged gold for dust, the eternal for what is temporal.
All of the things mentioned above are activities we do by choice. Instead of spending our time as the hands and feet of Jesus, we waste away our lives being self-absorbed and mired in selfishness. This is not who we were created to be. God intended all of us to do good works for Him (Ephesians 2:10), to carry on the work He started so many years ago. The good news is that it’s not too late to change the way we live and dedicate ourselves fully to Him. It is a simple act of will to turn off a television, iPod or video game console. We can choose to be productive for the King, or be lazy and self-serving. There really is no in between here. We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24); we must choose between ourselves and God.
Don’t waste your life chasing after those things that do not last. Focus on the One who died for you and now wishes to collaborate with you in the greatest story ever told. We have been asked to write history with the Creator of the universe. What could be more exciting? Yet we will never be able to participate in this adventure unless we consciously choose to do so. It all comes down to a choice, and that choice is up to you and me. Will we decide to cast everything aside, to leave it all, and follow Him? Or will we be content with the comforts of our “stuff” and the company of our friends to ever choose to get involved in the life He has created for us to live? There are only 24 hours in each day. How we spend our time is up to us; God is waiting to see what we will do. How will you choose to spend the hours of this day?