Meanings in Culture

Whatever You Do (2)

“Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” Matthew 22:17, 18

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Truth in a Coin
In this incident of the question regarding taxes, Jesus laid down a fundamental principle concerning the relationship of human institutions to the divine economy.

He made two important points: First, human governments are legitimate according to the good purposes of God, and for that reason, should they require taxes in order to fulfill their calling, we must be prepared to pay. The Apostle Paul would make this same point a little later on (cf. Rom. 13:1-6).

The second point Jesus made concerns the relationship of men to God. Just as there are things we owe to Caesar, which we must be prepared to render, there are things we owe to God, and He requires them of us as surely as the government does our taxes. Both these points Jesus was able to make by holding up a coin, an artifact of culture, and an excellent example of what we might call “everyday culture.”

God, Culture, and Us

Whatever You Do (1)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

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For many of us, perhaps, “culture” sounds rather far off and aloof.

When we think of “culture” it’s usually the art museum, the symphony, fashion, or some other kind of “high brow” diversion that comes to mind. Of course, we recognize the existence of a very large and variegated “pop culture”—music, TV, film, sports, and so forth—but we don’t really think of that as culture, not in the sense that art or poetry or fine music is culture, at any rate.

But what is “culture”?

Three Disciplines

Making the Most of the Time (7)

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

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Time and Our Journey
We began this series by considering the gift of time and seeing ourselves as stewards of this gift, called to invest it in such a way as to return glory and honor to God with all the time of our lives.

When we see our lives from the vantage point of Jesus Christ, exalted in glory and furthering His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, this helps us to understand better what we’re supposed to be doing with our time. Seeking the Kingdom of God with all our time is our highest priority, so we need to gain an understanding both of how we are using our time in the present, and how we can improve the use of our time so as to pursue the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in all the time of our lives.

Living each day within the framework of our lives as a journey toward eternal glory can help us to grow in the Lord, draw on His strength, live sacrificially for others, and do the good works for which we have been redeemed by the Lord (Eph. 2:8-10).

Strength for the Journey

Making the Most of the Time (6)

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion…They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5, 7

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The Journey of Faith
In his sermon, “The Christian Pilgrim,” Jonathan Edwards elaborated the idea of the Christian life as a journey. There is an end to the journey, and they travel most efficiently who keep that end in sight, so as not to become distracted along the way. We are travellers, pilgrims, and we must neither dawdle nor delay in making progress toward the vision of Christ and His Kingdom.

This message of Edwards dovetails nicely with his sermon on “The Preciousness of Time” and provides a framework for thinking about the life of faith that can help us in making the most of the time of our lives.

The idea of the life of faith as a journey has solid Biblical roots, for example, in Psalm 84. In this psalm the sons of Korah anticipated the preaching of Jonathan Edwards by teaching us how to look at our lives in the Kingdom of God so that we don’t squander our time but use it as God intends.

Kingdom Coming

Making the Most of the Time (5)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

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Every Moment for the King
Since, as we have seen, the Lord Jesus grants us the time of our lives for the purpose of augmenting, improving, and expanding His rule on earth as it is in heaven, we do well to take His command about seeking the Kingdom into every area of our lives.

We are making the most of the time of our lives when we are using every moment of it on the King’s business, devoting ourselves to the progress of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit as our overarching framework for life (Rom. 14:17, 18).

The better we understand and the more consistent we are able to be in practicing the Kingship of Jesus and in seeking His Kingdom, the better use we will make of the time of our lives in bringing glory and honor to the Lord.

Paying Attention to Time

Making the Most of the Time (4)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15, 16

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Kingdom Time?

Most of us would be surprised, I think, to discover how much of the precious gift of time we invest in activities other than seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God.

One reason this happens is that we have never learned how to prosecute our daily lives from a Kingdom vantage point. The work we do, our relationships at home, taking care of the everyday business of staying healthy and managing our affairs—for many believers, indeed, perhaps most, these are not typically looked upon as Kingdom activities.

The Kingdom of God has nothing much to say about how I do my work, take care of my yard, converse with my friends, or use my free time. That is “non-Kingdom” time for most believers, with the result that hours and hours of time each week, given to us by the Lord for the purposes of advancing His Kingdom, are simply lost to merely temporal and fleeting ends.

“Kingdom time” is, you know, church time, when I’m with my Christian friends doing my Christian thing.

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