Monday, 27 February 2012

Blood Money


“Why people feel they need to leave an offering at every body of water and monument is beyond me.” 
(Photographer’s comment)

I like that. I found that to be an interesting question, full of all sorts of implications.

Obviously this little church building has long since ceased to have a congregation of believers in it, yet the offering plate is still there and the money still continues to come in. Why do people feel the need to continue to leave an offering when they step into a church building? How peculiar.

Though most likely this money was simply thrown there by tourists, much like some people throw coins into a fountain or pool of water, that is not the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture. I didn’t see it as a “wishing well” full of the coins of the superstitious. No, I was reminded of something much more sinister.

The very first thing that entered my mind when I saw this picture was Judas’ remorse at having betrayed Jesus. Notice how Matthew records the event:
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” (Mt.27:3-6; NIV)
That is the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture with the coins thrown haphazardly into the church building. This led to a second thought, and that is, it is interesting that people continue to “throw” money into church buildings and places of worship. That too is peculiar.

Oh, I know what many of you may be thinking right now; it’s not like that in the churches of today. We don’t irreverently “throw” money into or at church buildings; we do so respectfully and as an offering to God. I know the teachings, for there was a time when I taught them myself. I’ve long since repented of that. But I’ve digressed. I do not wish to belabor what constitutes “real” giving to God here or how much of it really gets to where it is needed most.

Though the deed was done, I suspect that in the end, Judas’ “throwing” the money into the temple at least came from a remorseful and repentant heart.

This raises the question of the state of our hearts when it comes to money. Though in Christ we are made fully right with God, perhaps until we come to the place where we can also “throw” our money (yes, even into the institutional systems), there is still some measure of idolatry in us. Forgive me if that sounds harsh, but as Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt.6:24).

Maybe when money, and specifically the “love” of it (1Tim.6:10), comes in contact with the church, perhaps it really does become “Blood Money.” Maybe the heart is best tested by how often we also “throw” our money. Is it time for Christians to have a little looser hold on their money? No, I am not trying to make a doctrine of this, but I cannot help but wonder.

That’s the way I see it anyway.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons "Ghost Town Offering"

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Lent: Church Tradition Number 14,073

Strange that, though we all know that Jesus didn't really say this,
many seem to celebrate this season as though He did.
(Photo source: Unknown)
So once again we find ourselves in the season of “Lent.” But what is “Lent” anyways? Short answer, according to my dictionary, it is “the forty weekdays before Easter, observed in many Christian churches as a time for fasting and repenting of sins.”

Recently I discovered another related word that I had never heard before: “Shrove.” Going back to my dictionary, “Shrove-tide” is “the three days, Shrove Sunday, Shrove Monday, and Shrove Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Shrovetide is a time for confession, absolution, rejoicing, and feasting.”

So, if I understand this correctly, during Lent, one of the activities is fasting. The idea seems to be that you have to give up something, often food, in order to somehow be better able to celebrate Easter (???). And, since there is that fasting of Lent coming, during Shrove one of the activities is feasting (often on pancakes), or the proverbial “pig-out.” (Yes, I am being facetious).

Recently I mentioned to a couple people that I had only heard the word “Shrove” for the first time two years ago. They seemed rather surprised at this, given that they knew about my Theology background. Now, in all fairness, I may have heard it in some lecture somewhere, but obviously, if I did, I either didn’t view it as important, or it was simply one of those things that went in one ear and promptly out the other.

When I explained to them that the word “Lent” and “Shrove” was not in the Bible, they seemed almost to disbelieve me. In the end, I think I helped them come to see that these were simply traditions of men. I thought of actually going a step further and saying that even the word “Easter” is not in the Bible either, but that might have been pushing it.

So what is the point of all this?

The point is that traditions are not, contrary to what some might think, the Gospel. They are simply man-made. They are, as Jesus said, “rules taught by men” (Mark 7:7; NIV), or as the ESV puts it, “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

Now traditions are not necessarily a bad thing. Like most people, we have a few things that we do as a family which have become sort of traditional. They can actually be fun. I remember when our kids were small, one of the things that we often did on long weekends, when we didn’t have school or work the next day, was to have a family slumber party. We would lay out air mattresses and sleeping bags on the floor, rent a few good movies, stock up on chips and cookies and pop, and have a family movie night. It was a lot of fun for all.

Those days are long gone, but when the kids come home for a few days, we still love to play cards and do things together. I suppose it is tradition.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is when traditions, especially in the church, cloud the truth of the Gospel message. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were big on traditions, and many modern day Pharisees are equally big on them. In speaking about his own background before his conversion, Paul confessed that, “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14; NIV).

When some Pharisees questioned Jesus about his disciples breaking the tradition of hand washing, Jesus said, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:3; NIV)? Therein lies, I believe, the key for us today as well. Are we breaking any of the commands of God with our traditions? If so, there is a problem. If not, then it is no big deal one way or another.

In my way of thinking, the only commandment that matters now is “The Greatest Commandment.” What is that? Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40; ESV). Is this our primary focus? If so, then that’s great.

If, on the other hand, we focus more on man-made traditions than the Greatest Commandment, then I would argue we have a problem.

I like how Paul of Tarsus put it. He said, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid that I may have labored over you in vain” (Galatians 4:8-11; ESV).

So what is this “Lent” and “Shrove” thing? They are nothing more than some of the many traditions of men that “some” in the church have embraced. Facetiously I called this post Church Tradition Number 14,073. I don’t know how many man made traditions there are in the church. Suffice it to say that there are lots.

At the end of the day, I suppose it comes down to this: “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5; ESV). “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves” (Romans 14:22; ESV).

So if you think you have to fast and give something up before you can pig out on those chocolate eggs, go ahead; knock yourself out. What it really comes down to is, to each their own.

That’s the way I see it anyway. Peace.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

"Lies My Pastor Told Me," by Cole Brown

Photo Credit: "Meesh," Flickr Creative Commons
http://www.flickr.com/people/moosharella/
Do pastors lie? Now there's a controversial question. Certainly they are no different than the rest of us in that they are just as susceptible to lying as you and I are. If that question bothers us, could it be that it does so because we have somehow elevated to role of pastor to some strange place that God never intended us to? Hmm, I wonder.

Perhaps the question needs to be revised; do pastors deliberately lie? Well, now there's a hot potato. Let me just say this, and then I will leave the subject alone! No, I'm sure they don't deliberately lie, but that's not to say that the truth they think they're proclaiming isn't sometimes a little misguided.

Someone shared this video on Facebook. I thought it a good message worth sharing.



What is your take on this? How comfortable are you in publicly rebuking or correcting a pastor if you believed him to be in error? Do you think the author is correct? Why or why not?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Man the Lifeboats

Photo Credit: Grant MacDonald
http://www.flickr.com/people/grantmac/
There has been no shortage of discussion in the media and on various Internet sites lately about dwindling attendance in the traditional institutional church (hereafter called simply the “IC”). Even many prominent IC leaders have weighed in on the discussion, wondering what has caused this phenomenon and how to reverse the trend, believing that it is in fact a trend that must be reversed.

This isn’t only a problem unique to some of the mainline denominations; every major group from liberal to conservative, from Roman Catholic to charismatic, seems to be affected by it. Unless we’ve got our heads completely buried in the sand, we’ve got to see that something is clearly in the wind. The only question is, what?

There are many Christians who do not see all this as negative, but who are, perhaps strangely, rather excited by it as they anxiously wait to see what God is doing next. Mostly it seems that these are Christians who have long since left the IC and are busy redefining what it means to be the church. However, my point here is not to argue for or against the IC, but rather to issue a call to “Man the Lifeboats.”

Several years ago, when one IC that we were at was about to permanently close her doors, I remember a dear old saint say to me, “Where should we go?” A significant portion of her life was wrapped up in that place. The way she saw it, her ship was sinking and she was afraid of drowning. Many within the IC today are equally afraid.

Now if you or I worked as a lifeguard at some beach resort and we saw someone in trouble in the water, what would our response be? Would we argue the pros and cons of swimming lessons with them? Would we try and teach them how to make it safely to shore against the strong undercurrent? Would we stand back and watch as they went under? Of course not! We would instantly grab our life preservers and “man the lifeboats” as we rushed out to help them.

Should it be any different in the church? Again, of course not! Yes, I believe the IC as we know it is changing, whether we like it or not, but those caught in its implosion don’t need arguments and more teaching from those already safely on the shore. What they really need is for you and me to “man the lifeboats” and come over to where they are and help pull them out of the swirling waters that threaten to sink them.

Yes, there are a lot of signs that the IC as we know it is going down. At the risk of speculating too much, perhaps it is all a part of God’s design before the soon coming again of King Jesus. Who knows? However, one thing is for certain, our Lord is coming back for His church, His bride. He is not coming back looking for a specific denomination, and He is most certainly not coming back with a list of those who are in the IC versus those who are not in the IC. Could it be that some of us have forgotten that He is coming back for His bride, regardless where they are?

Where does that leave you and me? It leaves us with a responsibility, perhaps more now than at any other time in history, to be our brother’s keeper. The problem is, regardless what you and I think of the IC, the more that people leave due to what they perceive to be an irrelevant IC, the more the brothers and sisters still in the IC get caught up in the swirl of that exodus. Many of them are at a loss as what to make of it all. Many of these brothers and sisters are asking, “Where should we go?” Many of them are left holding the bag of empty pews and full mortgages. Many become angry and defensive because they feel abandoned.

Am I suggesting that we shouldn’t have left the IC? No, I’m not saying that. But I am saying that maybe it is time to be a little less harsh and a little more loving. We can fool ourselves by saying that, while we hate the IC, we still love the people in it. I confess that I’ve done that myself, but I wonder if it isn’t a copout. The problem is, our brothers and sisters in the IC don’t receive it that way. Since much of their identity is tied to the IC, they will receive a word against the IC as a word against them personally.

Maybe it is time for us to stop preaching to the choir, as the saying goes. Other than to unbelievers, maybe it’s time to stop preaching altogether. It’s hard to hug each other while we continue to hold those heavy theology textbooks. It is hard to pull the oars through the water while we’re swinging a bat at the IC. Maybe it is time to let it all go and “Man the Lifeboats.”

So here are our questions:
    Photo Credit: Jonathan McPherskesen
    http://www.flickr.com/people/jmcphers/
  • Can we really lay everything down, all our doctrines and idiosyncrasies, man the lifeboats, and be there for our brothers and sisters in all these turbulent times, of IC versus non-IC?
  • Is it actually possible that here and now, on the eve of His second coming, that King Jesus’ prayer of old for unity amongst believers (John 17), finally gets realized?
  • What if King Jesus returned tomorrow to find us all preoccupied rescuing each other, regardless of our doctrinal views concerning the IC, and proving that we really are our brother’s keepers?

That’s the way I see it anyway.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Religion's Most Dangerous Job?

Photo Credit: Lee Bennett
http://www.flickr.com/people/leebennett/
"The prudent sees danger and hides himself, 
but the simple go on and suffer for it"
 (Proverbs 27:12; ESV)

I typically do not watch much TV, but I remember watching a couple programs a while back about some of the world's most dangerous jobs. It's amazing some of the things people do to make a living. When you look at some of those dangerous work conditions, it is equally amazing that anyone would even bother to work in that industry at all. 

I have worked in a dangerous job for a few years too. However, my job never got mentioned on that TV program amongst the other dangerous jobs. Still, mine was probably "Religion's Most Dangerous Job." What job was that? It was an institutional church pastor.

Oh, I know there are those who would sneer at that. I also know that there are those who would say that being a pastor is not a job; it's a calling. While in some cases that may be true, I'm starting to question that more and more. At any rate, I am not going to belabour that point at this time.

So what makes the pastoral office a dangerous job? Consider the following statistics from Frank Viola and George Barna's most excellent book, "Pagan Christianity."

In this book the authors say there are over 500,000 pastors in the U.S. They further say that there is a "lethal danger" to the pastoral office. That word "lethal" sounds like a pretty dangerous job to me! So what makes it dangerous? Take a look at these numbers: 
  • 94% feel pressured to have an ideal family
  • 90% work more than 46 hours a week
  • 81% say they have insufficient time with their spouses
  • 80% believe that the pastoral ministry affects their family negatively
  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend
  • 70% have lower self-esteem than when they entered the ministry
  • 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job
  • 80% are discouraged or deal with depression
  • 40%+ report that they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and unrealistic expectations
  • 33% consider the pastoral ministry an outright hazard to the family
  • 33% have seriously considered leaving their position in the last year
  • 40% of pastoral resignations are due to burnout
The authors further say that, "1600 ministers in all denominations across the U.S. are fired or forced to resign each month." That sounds almost unbelievable, doesn't it? Still, the Barna Research Group does seem to bear this out. At the very least it begs the question why anyone would go into the pastoral ministry as we've come to know it when it has such a high casualty rate.

Yes, God gave some to be pastors, but I am convinced that what He had in mind was a "gift" of pastor (or pastoring) and not an "office" of pastor. Man has adulterated what God had in mind. It is no wonder we have statistics such as these. Could it be that we've turned the gift of God into something that He never had in mind in the first place? I believe that we have done exactly that.

Yes, the pastoral "office" has evolved into a dangerous job, but perhaps it is made even more dangerous still by another fact. Perhaps it is even more dangerous in that those who persist in it as an "office" will one day have to give an account to God for profaning and merchandizing that which He intended to be a gift. God forgive us.

That's the way I see it anyway. 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Has "Religion" Become A Dirty Word?

Photo Credit: Russell Shaw Higgs
http://www.flickr.com/people/russell-higgs/
Has the word “religion” gotten a bad rap lately? I confess that, like many others, I’ve often used the word in a rather negative fashion. However, in reading Christian authors from previous generations, such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon and C.S. Lewis and a host of others, it seems that the way they used the word “religion” was vastly different than the way many of us have begun to use the word today. Has the meaning of the word “religion” morphed into something different between their generations and ours today?

Has "Religion" become a sort of spiritual dirty word?

For many of those old timers of yesteryear, I get the sense that the word “religion” was not a negative word but rather simply an innocent way to speak of one’s faith. For them it was not only a word used to describe people of other faiths, but used equally to describe people of the Christian faith. Were they wrong in their understanding and use of the word “religion?” No, not necessarily. Their use of the word was consistent with the dictionary definition.

My dictionary defines “religion” as: 1. belief in or worship of God or gods; 2. a particular system of religious belief and worship; 3. a matter of conscience.” If we use that definition, then all Christians are “religious.” So what is the problem?

The problem is that for many today, the word “religion” seems to have been redefined, or is in the process of being redefined, to mean something different than it once meant. If there were a new dictionary definition, it might read something like 1. rules or rituals pertaining to faith as carried out in an institutional environment; 2. the way of trying to earn the approval of a deity.” The word “religion” does seem to be evolving.

Photo Credit: Marie-ll
http://www.flickr.com/people/grrrl/
Who hasn't heard the term, "Elizabethan English?" Likewise, who hasn't read the Bible in the King James Version (KJV) and wondered at the meaning of certain archaic words? The point is, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of linguistics will have to agree that language and word use does evolve. 

Original definitions of words, while maybe still valid, do sometimes fall by the wayside as new definitions become more and more prevalent. While these new definitions often have their genesis in slang terminology, eventually the slang usage seems to become the norm. By way of example, consider the word “gay.” What it once meant versus the way it is understood today are two very different things. Its original definition, “happy and full of fun,” is still valid, but it is seldom used that way today. The slang use to denote a homosexual seems to have become the new accepted norm.

I cannot help but wonder if the same sort of thing hasn't happened to the word "religion." Perhaps it has simply morphed into something different. Perhaps, like with so many other words today, we need to spend more time explaining what we mean by the words that we use, and especially so if we want to make certain that we are not misunderstood.

It’s time for you to weigh in. I’d love to hear your take on this.
  • Has the word “religion” gotten a bad rap?
  • Has the word “religion” become a sort of spiritual dirty word?
  • What is your definition of the word "religion?"
  • Has something else happened to change the way the word “religion” is understood by many in today’s church?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Have You Eaten Your Tithe Yet?

Photo Credit: Nick Thompson
http://www.flickr.com/people/pelegrino/
Have you eaten your tithe yet?

With so many Christians still practicing tithing, even though it is not a New Testament concept, I thought it would be interesting to look tithing from another angle; the dining room table.

Have you eaten your tithe yet?

Where am I coming from? I’m coming from the same place that all tithing is taught; from the Old Testament. The way I figure it, if we use Old Testament to justify tithing in the institutional church of today, then we are also justified in using the Old Testament to justify the kind of “tithing” that I am exploring here.

Have you eaten your tithe yet?

Most scholars believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch.  There we read,
“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that He will choose, to make His name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set His name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.” (Deuteronomy 14: 22-27; ESV – emphasis mine)
Have you eaten your tithe yet?

While the preceding is obviously an Old Testament passage, and as such many would argue is irrelevant to the church today, I would like to suggest that it is probably much more relevant to the kind of church life that Christ had in mind than we may realize. Certainly it is more relevant than my putting a tenth of my income into an offering plate so that some pastor can have an income and so that the mortgage and utilities of that building can be paid.

Have you eaten your tithe yet?

Where the relevance of the Deuteronomy passage comes in is in the fact that it expresses one of the most beautiful parts of church life; fellowship around a table. It is almost like a love feast or potluck supper. Everyone brings to a common place whatever their appetite craves. They are admonished not to neglect anyone. The inclusion of wine and strong drink suggests that they are also cautioned against being legalistic. And there, in the presence of God and each other, they are to eat their tithe with thanksgiving. It almost sounds like a celebration or a party; it almost sounds like the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-9).

Have you eaten your tithe yet?

I remember our last pastorate. Even then we would often go to church only after having put a pot roast in the oven on a timer. Our practice was to always seek out a new face and invite that person (or family) home to share a meal with us. To this day I firmly believe that those people went home having made new friends. Church backgrounds and doctrines were, perhaps ironically, unimportant. Getting to know new friends and sharing life, and sharing Jesus, around a table (the Lord’s Table???) is what really mattered. Even then I already believed that “real church” happened after church.

Have you eaten your tithe yet?

There is something beautiful about sharing a meal together. Unlike pew life, where division happens and walls are built up, table life lends itself to dissolving division and lowering walls. Forget the offering plate. Spend your tithe on whatever your appetite craves and invite your neighbours and friends to your table. It is no coincidence that at a table is where the New Testament often depicts Jesus. Likewise, it is no coincidence that it is at a table that we still find Him today.

Have you eaten your tithe yet?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Behold the Man

"Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man)
Photo Credit: Rodney
http://www.flickr.com/people/rjhuttondfw/
“Behold the Man!” Thus rang out Pilate’s infamous words (John 19:5) shortly before they crucified our Lord. I wonder how often we’ve slowed down enough to consider the implications of “Behold the Man!” in our day to day Christianity.

Lately I’ve been reading through a ten-volume collection of the sermons of Charles Spurgeon. Once again that Prince of Preachers (as he was often called) from yesteryear blessed me as I read his sermon entitled “A Visit to Calvary.” Allow me to share a small excerpt from that message. He writes:

"Do not tell me that a man has any sense of Christ’s love to him, who can willfully sin against the Saviour. We do see some strange prodigies now and then, but the strangest of all would be a Christian who could afford to live like a worldling, and yet maintain communion with Jesus Christ. We have heard men talk of their experience, who can give us whole yards of godliness, if that consists in the tongue; but when they come to practice, ah! their religion is not made to bear every-day pressure, it is a kind of confectionary religion, not made to be carried about in the rough world; it was made more as an ornament for their drawing room; a fashionable religion, a pretty religion, to come out on Sundays, and be carried to a place of worship; but it was never intended for business. The exchange – what; bring their religion there! why it would stand in the way of their business. Religion in their shop! Religion in their ordinary dealings! They never thought of such a thing; they thought religion was intended for their closet, though that has its door listed over; they thought religion was intended for them simply when they were reading the Bible, or turning over other religious books. Do you conceive that such men know Christ? Alas! no. Those who live near Jesus, those who 'behold the man,' will become like Christ. There is no such thing as having an interest in the blood of Jesus, and holding fellowship with him, and yet living in sin. Be not deceived concerning this. The follies and the fashions of this world are not consistent with godliness, and he who hopes to have Christ, and to have the world too, hath made a great mistake."

That says it all and really requires no additional comment from me. Where do you fit in this? Where do I fit in it? “Behold the Man!”

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Time: The Great Obsession

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver
http://www.flickr.com/people/alancleaver/
Are we obsessed with time?

The question, “How old are you?” is quite possibly the one question that we all ask each other more than any other. Ask that question of the pre-teen and they are likely to answer, “I am almost thirteen.” They want to be older than they actually are. Ask the thirteen year old the same question, and she replies, “I am almost sixteen.” As a teenager I remember lying about my age and saying I was twenty-one. It didn’t matter that I only looked fifteen; I wanted to be older. Then once we actually reach those mystical twenties, time seems to begin to accelerate and before we know it, the “old age” of youth is upon us and we turn thirty. It’s funny how we once viewed thirty as being “old.”

Suddenly we don’t want to get any older, as evidenced by the humorous way some of us celebrate many thirty-ninth birthdays. In jest I have even sometimes begun referring to birthdays as simply anniversaries of earlier birthdays. For example, my fiftieth birthday became the twenty-ninth anniversary of my twenty-first birthday. Are we obsessed with time?

I just read again about Methuselah who claims the title of being the oldest person who ever lived. He enjoyed 969 birthdays, or if you’d rather, 900 anniversaries of his sixty-ninth birthday. While I don’t know if this is actually true or not, I remember one author once saying that when we place Methuselah into the framework of history, he was likely one of the many who died in the flood of Noah’s day. If that is true, then it becomes interesting that old age didn’t kill him; drowning did.

In our culture, maybe we are obsessed with time. Everything runs on the clock. What time do you have to be at work? Oh, I start at 8:00 am. If I get there at 8:15 am, I am considered late. What time does church service start? It starts at 10:30 am. Not 10:30-ish, but precisely at 10:30. If you show up at 11:00 am, you will have missed half the service. It is interesting that if you ask what time church starts in some other cultures, the answer you’re likely to hear is, “Whenever the people get here.” 

In much of the third world there is a significantly more lax attitude about time. Society seems to function as if clocks were irrelevant. I cannot help but wonder if perhaps they, despite their primitiveness, know something that we don’t know. I cannot help but wonder if perhaps they are a little closer to God’s eternal view of time than you and I are.

The psalmist writes, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4; ESV). Likewise the Apostle Peter said, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8; ESV).

"Time Is Melting Away"
Photo Credit: Sari Choche
http://www.flickr.com/people/sari-coche/
Foundational to the Christian faith is the belief in an eternity with the Lord where there is no such thing as time. As hard as I try, sometimes I can scarcely imagine that. The phrase “no time like the present” will one day have a completely different meaning when we suddenly find ourselves in the “eternal now.” Likewise the question, “How old are you?” will one day be completely devoid of meaning.

I love the image of the “Retirement Clock” where all the numbers appear to have fallen off the face of the clock and are piled indiscriminately at the bottom. The caption simply says, “Retired; Who Cares.” As the time of the Lord’s return draws ever nearer, and we face “retirement” from this old world, could it also maybe be time that we begin to lose our obsession with time? I wonder.

How old am I? Who cares.