I've always loved words. Words I get. The subtleties of linguistic nuance I appreciate.
I despised math. I'm not sure if it was my slightly 'left-of-centre' eighth-grade teacher or not, but walking into a math lesson was a frightening ordeal. My eyes still glaze over at the mere mention of, "Can you look over these figures?"
But stick with me here. There are some important equations that must be considered. It's time we ran the numbers.
The gospel was never intended to serve a fraction of our lives or live out an existence behind the decimal point of your week. The gospel should not, and must not, be relegated to a single slice of the pie in the chart of your life.
Turn your eyes to the plethora of literature being produced at the moment and you will see a stunning selection of 'gospel-centered (fill in the blank)' material. For this, I am extremely grateful. God knows we have needed this renewed attention.
I've thrilled to see the bulk of focus growing as bloggers like myself have elevated again the primacy of the gospel in shaping our gatherings, ordering our liturgy, and forming our homiletic efforts. I've eagerly hit the share button in countless posts on 'gospel-centred song selection', or 'Cross-shaped preaching', or even on one occasion, 'The gospel and your welcome team'.
I do not in any way want to diminish the significance of this renewed attention to the gospel and how it shapes the community of God's people. However, it must be pointed out again, that this community of the redeemed exists in a greater sphere than the one she forms as she gathers together. In other words, the gospel must inform more than just a fraction of our existence.
The gospel is the whole, or the gospel is nothing.
Let's do the math.
You and I are granted 24 hours in a day; no more and no less.
In any given week, regardless if your surname is Piper, Keller, or Carson (or even less glamorous names, like Thomas), your allotted hours add up to 168. Let's factor in 8 hours of good sleep a night, and if my calculations are correct, we're left with 112 waking hours per week.
The gospel of God that Jesus came preaching as he entered Galilee at the outset of his public ministry is the same gospel that Paul labours with over the foolish Galatians as they turn to a 'different gospel' (which Paul says is no gospel at all). This same gospel must shape every one of our waking hours (there is even something to be said about 'resting' in the gospel), yet so often, even in our 'gospel-centered' frenzy, much of the focus has shifted to the church gathered and ignored (or at least overlooked) the church scattered. It's these 'other' hours I'm asking you to consider.
The church I minister with comes together for its main gathering once a week; this 'gathering together' usually lasts for about 2 hours. We've laboured hard to ensure what we do during that time is informed and shaped by the gospel we love. We sing gospel songs. We pray gospel prayers. We speak gospel truths. We minister to one another in gospel contexts. For two hours every week, we are a visibly gospel-saturated community of redeemed people.
So now we have 110 hours left. How is the gospel shaping those hours?
How is the gospel shaping the 14 hours a week you spend eating? Or the 14 hours you spend sitting in traffic? Are the 50 hours you are contracted to an employer off-limits to the gospel? Are you willing to count the hours scrolling through your Facebook feed or Twitter as an acceptable sacrifice to make?
If you eat for a collective total of two hours a day to fuel your body, how much time is required to fuel your soul? How does the gospel shape your 'leisure', or dare I say it, even your 'pleasure'? Can I validly declare that this is 'me time'?
Could it be that when the Psalmist cries out in Psalm 90:12, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom", he may be asking us to do more than wonder how long we'll walk this earth? Could it be that he too is asking us to consider how we might 'redeem the time'?
Ephesians 5:14-17 (ESV)
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Don't ignore the numbers.
Don't allow the gospel to simply 'taint' your day. Labour and strive to see the gospel so saturate your daily life that it flavours your mundane moments, and so permeate your existence to the point that it shapes your schedules and seasons.
The cross was required for more than two hours on a Sunday.
"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom"