Thursday, 20 May 2010

Life is always busy

Having just lived through a couple of very busy weeks with another fast approaching, I've concluded that life is just busy.

When I actually review how I've spent my time, I find that I actually spent lots of it being very unproductive. It's all about choices really. I can always fill my days, weeks, months etc with busyness or I can choose to spend my time more wisely.

I sometimes envy others who I perceive to have more 'free time' yet they too all say, 'I need more time!'. I want to say things like, 'wait until you have kids!' yet young(er) men I know still manage to fill their time quite easily.

It raises the question, what is a good use of my time?

I usually try to organise life in terms of my priorities which, for the most part, remain pretty constant. My list usually looks like this: disciple of Jesus, husband, father, son, individual, church leader. Each area has some sub-categories but it is with regard to these headings that I generally try to allocate my time. Do I always get it right? No. Often my priorities get confused, particularly since I began serving the church full time, and I make some time choices that adversely affect my wife and children.

Solomon reminds us in chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything. He doesn't clearly say when that time is! He also shows us that our lifetime is fleeting compared to the eternity that awaits the believer. My problem is overcoming the apathy that holds me in laziness instead of treating time as precious until the day comes when I get to see my Lord.

From a secular perspective, Stephen Covey asserts in '7 Habits of Highly Effective People', that time management can be divided into 4 quadrants that reflect whether activities are important/unimportant and urgent/non-urgent. He advocates spending more time on important and non-urgent activities, which basically means forward planning, in order not to waste time on urgent but unimportant tasks that often crop up and occupy time that would be better spent elsewhere.

I'm now feeling slightly hypocritical for spending time on this blog yet currently deem it more fruitful than many of the alternatives filling my head.

My summary thoughts are that I need to consider more carefully how I spend my time, who I spend that time with and not look back with regret that I filled lots of time with little to show for it.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Love Your Enemy

I've been reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's 'Letters and Papers from Prison' and was massively challenged by this observation of his:
"it is only when God's wrath and vengeance are hanging as grim realities over the heads of one's enemies that something of what it means to love and forgive them can touch our hearts"

This thought brings a whole new perspective on Jesus teaching to love your enemy (Matthew 5:44).
I think that most people apply this instruction in a passive way, interpreting love your enemy to mean in practice, leave each other in peace. This requires very little of us other than not to be a protagonist against those we consider 'against us'.
Since being challenged by Bonhoeffer to consider the reality of the future awaiting my enemies, I have thought much more about what it means to really love an enemy. Surely it has to be an active response requiring me to overcome any enmity between us, to foster reconciliation and to practice love, much like I would when applying 'love thy neighbour'.
As a believer who has acknowledged the 'hell' that would be an eternity apart from the presence of God, I would not consider that an appropriate future for any man, if given the opportunity to respond to the gospel of grace from our God.

I'm not convinced that I can currently think of anybody who I personally consider an enemy but there are social, cultural, religious (even world) contexts where as Christians we appear (appearances can be deceptive depending on where you stand) in opposition to many others. Are these our enemies? Do our opponents consider us as enemies? Either way our response should be love and more than just the thought of it.

It is too soon for me to work out all of the practicalities of what this might look like in my everyday life but it does cause you to pray.

The most challenging thing for me from this train of thought is if this causes a change in my approach to my enemies, how much more does it apply to those who I love who don't yet know Jesus?

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