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Punching Clocks

• Greg Boyd

All of us feel the stress of time on our lives. We feel tired, stressed and worn out over everything that needs to get done. God wants us to give up the idea of time as money so that we can gain the peace of eternity.

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Time is an important topic to study in our lives. It is a funky idea. We can’t imagine it having a start or an end, yet we can’t imagine it not having a start or an end. Science tells us that the flow of time in relation to others depends on our velocity relative to one another. Then there’s the whole question of whether our future time is already settled or affected by our decisions.

Have you ever noticed how people talk about time? “Give me a minute, I wasted an hour, investing some time in my kids, it took me 45 minutes, or I’m losing time”. These statements show that people think of time in terms of monetary substance. This way of thinking about time adds stress to our lives. It adds stress in three unique ways: we can’t help but spend time, time runs out, and we have no idea when time will run out. If we had a bank account where all our money is and we can’t stop spending money, we know the money will run out, but we have no idea what the balance on the account is—we would be really stressed!

When we view time like money, time can become our enemy. We fight against time, we race against time, but we never can defeat this enemy. Not only can we not defeat it, but most of the time, we have no say in how our time is spent. We spend time sleeping, eating, cooking, taking care of the kids, visiting parents, prayer with God, and interactions with the spouse. While these are all good things, we don’t have a lot of control over when and how much time we spend on these.

This way of thinking about money adds to our dividedness, internal fragmentation, and our lack of centeredness. It is often why we feel so hurried, worried, and tired. It is also why we have so much trouble being in the moment of our lives, when we are distracted by the next thing we need to do at the expense of what we’re doing now. We lose peace, harmony and centeredness out of our lives.

When we look at how God treats time, we see that thinking of time in a monetary way is wrong. God is never in a hurry. When He created the world, He could have created it in a nanosecond. Yet, He took six days, and rested on the seventh. God takes His time and is in no hurry. Even after the Fall, where as humans we would want the problem fixed immediately, God sets up the story of redemption over thousands of years. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel all play prominent roles in the story, yet are not the Savior that is needed. Finally, when Jesus comes at the right time, he takes 30 years to start His ministry! Over 90% of His life was not a part of His ministry that would save the world. He walked from town to town, instead of riding the express transportation of donkeys, camels, and horses. This purposely peaceful demeanor of Jesus reflects the invisible God that created the world. In fact, it is one of the ways in which Jesus shows His Godly character. If we expect to reflect this character, we must stop buying into the lie that time is money. We must surrender our time to God.

We must start seeing time as a gift from God. While it can be good to have a sense of purpose and mission as a Christian, if we feel hurried, worried, or tired then we are not surrendering our time to God, and we become fragmented and divided in our inner spiritual life. Time is not our enemy. Learn to let go of time as money, and receive the gift of eternity’s peace. When we do this, we begin to reflect the values of the undivided Kingdom of God and we reflect the purposely, peaceful pace of Jesus.

(The song used at the beginning of the sermon was “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.)

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Topics: Peace, Presence of God, Simplicity, Transformation

Sermon Series: Undivided

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Focus Scripture:

  • 2 Peter 3:8

    But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

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11 thoughts on “Punching Clocks

  1. Lindy Combs says:

    Once again, Pastor Greg has nailed me. He has crystal clearly pictured my whole approach for me to see. I am amazed. This brought me to tears, as he held that clock face, describing uses of time. I saw clearly what Greg meant about this approach to time as sinful. Right on! I sense a brand new mindset forming about what value GOD PLACES on how I am to use the gift of time, especially what it takes to properly steward my own health and do things like simply getting ready to go somewhere.

    Thank you Terri and Greg.

  2. kevin says:

    Someone please address this message as it applies to “winning the lost at any cost”. Shouldn’t we be in a hurry to reach people before they die and go to hell? I do not have this mindset although most “believers” do.

  3. Scott Boren says:

    I can relate to this question. I was raised as a part of a denomination that talked in such ways. There were and are leaders who express a great deal of anxiousness about the need to save people from hell. The problem with this attitude is that those who feel such pressure often fail to be bearers of “good news.” Yes they may possess a message about getting into heaven but the way they carry this message with their lives is not a way of good news. It is one of stress and anxiety over the salvation of individuals. Those hearing the message are just as interested, if not more so, in how we do life as in what we say.

  4. Rick Nelson says:

    I agree with Scott, that the message asserted in such a way (at any cost) will not bear the “good news”.

    A note to Kevin: I disagree with your heavy assertion. I do not think that “most” christians have a mindset of winning the lost to Christ at any cost.

    I think it could be asserted that many Christians desire anyone outside the faith to accept Jesus as their savior, but I disagree it would be at any cost.

  5. Rick Nelson says:

    What I’ve reflected upon from this sermon and the booklet reading tied into the previous two sermons. “Disquietude”, “Presence”, and now “Time” segue nicely. I was struck how I fought these at each turn.

    The first I disliked because I do think of others needs, and in the past much more often than my own. But, there is a lot to be aware of concerning the conciousness of our own being and how we live.

    The second felt more in line with how I could think about myself, and a member of my small group set a good tone about how our “children” connect to us. Let me mention that all discussion in the small group has added value to the booklet. I’m sorry I missed this week due to illness. Let me finish the second by making it clear the work upon “presence” has had great value to my life for some time.

    Then, I state here, all this next, about the third is solo. “Time” has some kick. The first post (thanks Lindy) notes how close to home the sermon is. I agree, in how it fits to my understanding.

    Did anyone else find reason to complain about interruptions of infinite variety? That is, lifes daily distractions take their claim upon our designated resource of time? Very often these are uncerimonious demands which stifle the desire for objective approach and calmer existence.

    I’m also drawn to complain about illness. I’ve had rather a lot of sinus infections and prescription related reactions that have interrupted months out of each year for almost a decade.

    How about relationships? If this isn’t your category, God be praised!

    I thought of another metapor for time that is grabbed, or gobbled up without my desired participation. My metphor is that of a good horse, one which people like, and shows itself willing to work for the master, but finds itself constantly lassoed in a coral by numerous malefactors.

  6. Rick Nelson says:

    Question: Will the sermon about time sway some to avoid time here on the blog?

  7. Jim LePage says:

    Interesting point, Rick. It’s possible 🙂

  8. Ryan Post says:

    Just wanted to say thanks to WHC for hosting all of these sermons on your website. It’s become a daily routine for me to listen to 1 or 2 of Greg’s messages every day while I’m working. I appreciate the time and energy you put into this website.

  9. Jim LePage says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Ryan! We love hearing about how people use the sermons!

  10. anders hitchcock says:

    its so timely hearing this sermon in the business of my life-I want to spend some more time chewing on this and learn to be more Christ-like in how I veiw time and how I live and work and love each day…thanks for your faithfulness to Messiah and the Word…I am also a Ellul junkie and very encouraged by some of your reflections on his works, as well as Eller, Yoder, etc…thanks Pastor Greg, Anders, Tucson, AZ.

  11. I have invested a lot of time in listening to Greg’s sermons and continue to be amazed at how I am challenged as well as having the missing pieces of the puzzle of what I have been taught during my Christian walk keep filling in the blank spaces.

    I can see now that I have treated time exactly as Greg said-like money. I have even recently talked about how precious time is—as precious as money–so I should spend it wisely. All of my life I have wanted to spend time wisely, purposefully (except for a few years when I experimented with the mind set “if it feels good, do it”)

    To commit both my time and my money to the will of God is true surrender. I have wanted to surrender and prayed that my life would be surrendered to God–but I believe I have missed the mark in the area of time.

    Now I have another way to stay in touch with God moment to moment. “Is this how you want me to spend my time, Abba Father?” Will be a question I will be asking more and more. I hope to be able to discern his “Yes” and “no” ever more clearly.

    I also will ask God to help me to trust. This is a lesson in trust. If I trust God, then I won’t push things. I won’t spend all night typing a blog or letters or researching so I can find people to join the community I envision. I am feeling strongly after hearing the first messages in this series, that God wants me to first focus on my unusual family–two former husbands and two precious children (one from each husband). We are all old enough to really cooperate and help each other.

    I have done much to hurt my family, and I have come a long way especially since surrendering my life to Christ twelve years ago. But I still have a tendency to think I need to save the world rather than nurture my family. Now I see that in order to really be of service, it would be wonderful if our family was united and totally reconciled.

    We own land together and are moving in the direction of living there — and I feel hopeful that Abba father is helping us all be the community that I have always envisioned.

    Thanks for letting me share on this blog. I love the way that this church encourages interaction and conversations. I like reading the comments because I am getting to know those who are associated with this church. I am eager to form a group on the on line community–but I will have to be asking God if this is how he wants me to spend my time.

    One thing is for sure–if I use my time wisely, I have more time. If I listen to Abba Father, then he will help me so that those things that are emergencies and often unfruitful use of time–like a big conflict–won’t need to happen. Yes, he can make something good out of everything that happens–but many things could be avoided if I am listening to him. This has happened time after time–close calls–but he saved me perhaps because I was listening.

    I have a day before me where i am just organizing my house and getting things ready for my my daughter and former husband returning from a trip–I will do my best to be listening to God’s voice. This is good timing!

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