I got up this morning, went to Wal-Mart to buy groceries, came back to the farm to shoot a barrel (it received a fair trial), and then came on into the church office. I picked up my watch off the bookshelf, put it on and went on with my day.
Now, it’s Wednesday, so time matters because of the traditional church schedule. I found myself a little confused though, throughout the day as something was not right with keeping up with what time it was. I would check my phone, see the time, think accordingly, and go on. Later, I would look at my watch, be puzzled, and then go forward because of what time I thought it was.
About five minutes ago I figured out the source of my confusion. My watch? I have not worn it in a couple of weeks. So it was still on Daylight Saving Time. Cell phone? It updates automatically, so it’s been right all along. All day, I have been trying to structure my day and my work around the time, being on time, and getting stuff done on time.
I just did not really know what time it was. (Cue this)
Having cleared that up, I find myself regretful of wasting a day confused between two guides for my day. Between, really, two masters of my schedule. One right. The other one? Perfectly accurate to its own standard. It was just the wrong standard.
Now, I’m sure some of you are already in a couple of places: 1. Politics: it’s time to stop living an hour off-sync with reality for Christian folks and figure out how to win; 2. Church: Quit living an hour behind the people around us.
So, you can go ahead and chase those rabbits. There’s plenty of fodder there.
If you’re still with me, hit Luke 16:13.
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon (or money). Luke 16:13
We typically see this as a verse commanding us to avoid the obviously evil. One cannot serve God and “ill-gotten” wealth. God and the Yankees (just the team, not the people group indigenous to the areas north of the Blessed lands of the Ark-La-Tex). God and self-serving power. God and lusts. God and racism.
You get the point.
But we need to dig a little harder. Oftentimes, I think we see this verse as a simplistic reinforcement of our own ease in life. We are ready to see it in light of what we are unlikely to actually face. For example, when we discuss Scripture as a family and my children, when reading the Old Testament, say things like “I need to not kill people to take their vineyard.” (After reading Ahab/Naboth.) We then ask them to dig a little harder, as that’s an unlikely application.
So for many of us: while I may have to deal with certain temptations, it remains unlikely that I will try to serve God and my millions of dollars. Or that I will be tempted to serve God and power, striving to rule the world. The list goes on. We preach against sins that are never tempting.
Yet coming back to the watch, I think our bigger problems are not that we are faced with the temptation of living to serve the wrong master as if our watches were set 12 hours off–or even on the wrong calendar day. Our bigger temptations are to serve the other master that’s a mere hour off. The ones that seem almost right but are just a tad bit wrong.
Truly, most of us will not try to rule the world. But we will try, out of the goodness of our hearts, to rule a corner more than we should: skip this committee, just listen to the pastor. Forget that democratic ideal, just listen to the local pastor’s group. Sure, it’s a financial shortcut, but the money will be well-used. After all, skipping that one credit card payment to give to Lottie Moon is choosing better, right? Can’t serve both God and Capital One, can we? Never mind the broken commitment inherent in willfully skipping a debt payment…
Closer in, we also must be careful about serving other ideals that are a mere hour off from the best. The sustaining and expansion of the Southern Baptist Convention as opposed to the work of the Kingdom of God–or even the growth of Almyra First Baptist instead of the making of disciples in Almyra, Arkansas. We must find the true time, and get back on it.
Our days and efforts will be more in concert when we do this. Our lives will find a better role when we get back on the right time.
Where do we find it?
When we get our personal timepieces in unison with each other and in unison with the ultimate standard. I realized the time was wrong when my watch, my phone, and the sun were out of sync. One of these is objective (or at least unchanging!) while the other two can be corrected.
Many of us have let one or two of our clocks slip. We see denominational issue or national issues or economic issues or even issues in other churches that we want to fix. Yet much of the time our effort into those keeps us from what God has for us to do right where we are. The command to make disciples supersedes the desire to fix what’s broken in the church down the street–even knowing that it’s broken!
The command to make disciples supersedes the desire to fix a broken government (I don’t care who you were for–if you think DC works, or has worked for the past decade, I think you’re wrong). The command to show the fruit of the Spirit, to love God more than anything else–all exceed the desire to see the Southern Baptist Convention be right all the time.
Our days remain confused because we look at the right time some of the time, but then get distracted looking at the wrong time.
Get your timepieces straight. Then we can move forward and demonstrate what it is to live the Kingdom of God in a world without hope.