Study Guide: Punching Clocks

Sunday October 31, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

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.

Extended Summary:

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.)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. What in your schedule is causing you to be worried, hurried, and tired?
  3. In what situations do you feel time to be your enemy? Do you ever feel that you’re not present in a moment because you’re thinking about another thing you have to do?
  4. Reflect on how God and Jesus were never in a hurry. Do you believe that is possible in today’s world? What would be some obstacles or fears in living out a purposefully, peaceful pace in your life?
  5. Look back to question two and pick one or two of the things in that list. What are some practical ways in which you can lead a more peaceful life regarding those two things?
  6. As you take this teaching into the rest of your life, what are some ways that you can remind yourself to let go of time as money, and instead gain eternity’s peace and live in the moment?