- Friday, April 09, 2010
Do we shop as often, and for the same things, as our non-Christian neighbors?
Do we covet all the newest fashions?
Are we as drawn to the latest technological gizmos as everyone else?
Too often, we give lip service to seeking first the kingdom, while our lives demonstrate pagan preoccupations.
Prioritizing Our Faith
Structuring our free time in a God-honoring way means we will prioritize our leisure activities so that it is clear that Jesus is on the throne of our lives. We will make time for daily Bible study and prayer. We will share meals around the table instead of in front of the tube. We will engage in family prayer and worship. And when our devotion to Jesus collides with the temptation to put something else on the throne, we will demonstrate to the world who is our king.
One way we can prioritize our activities is quite practical. Many organized sports leagues now play soccer or softball on Sundays, as though it were any other day. What should a Christian do in this situation?
Here's another example: While in high school, my brother played for an advanced soccer league that practiced every Wednesday night during the church's youth group hour. My brother was faced with a dilemma: should he sacrifice his potential soccer scholarship in order to attend church? Or should he sacrifice Jesus on the altar of his sports ambitions? I was proud of his choice to fellowship with the body of Christ, even if it meant he sacrificed playing time during the games. (Later, he was awarded a soccer scholarship to a Christian university!)
Too many Christians pay lip service to Jesus as king and yet demonstrate by their recreational choices that something else is on the throne. Ball is Ba'al. When parents replace Sunday morning worship with a Sunday morning ball game, they are communicating more to their children through that one action than many years' worth of words stressing the importance of church attendance.
Planning Quiet Moments
Another way that we can structure our free time in a way that is subversive of the Caesar of Leisure is by planning moments of contemplative solitude. The constant barrage of noise and entertainment today can effectively drown out the voice of God to us, so that even when we open the Scriptures, we are too distracted to hear what God has to say.
I confess that it is often difficult for me to fit regular times of quiet prayer and contemplation into my schedule. My responsibilities to family, church, and school keep me busy. But even though long periods of silence and prayer may be difficult for me during this stage of my life, it is still important that I seek out those quiet moments with God, even if they are just moments and not hours.
A spiritual discipline that helps keep my life centered on Christ is the practice of praying briefly three or four times a day at certain hours. The Old Testament saints prayed in this manner, as have many Christians throughout the centuries. Prayer books can help guide you through certain psalms and Scriptures during these quiet moments. Praying at fixed hours keeps my focus and attitude on the kingdom of God and helps me add a spiritual structure to a schedule that can too easily become controlled by entertainment (TV schedule), food (three meals a day), or work (clock in, clock out).
Francis Schaeffer writes:
No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place of quiet—because, when you are quiet, you have to face reality. But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise. . . . The Christian is supposed to be very opposite: There is a place for proper entertainment, but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet. Rather we are to put everything second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow it to speak to us and confront us.
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