The Lord's Grace
General Stories of God's Grace
The Gift of Time
By David Naugle
24 Dec 2003
A BreakPoint Article
From a Christian point of view, time is very important. Throughout the centuries, the Church has taught that time is God’s creation, gift, and blessing. She also asserts that time, in the form of history, is the realm in which God has made Himself known through mighty words and deeds. Without time and history, people would have little if any knowledge of God in terms of who He is, what He has done, or how they are to relate to Him. Unlike some Eastern religions that deny the significance of time, or some misinformed Christians who tend to denigrate temporality in favor of eternity, both the Old Testament and the New Testament show just how important time and history are for the Christian faith.
The way we use our time in daily life is one of the best indications of what is important to us. How we spend our time reveals who we really are and what we really love.
The way we understand time itself is an important matter as well. Unfortunately, even though we are Christians, most of us don’t have a biblical view of time. Most of us tend to understand, mark, and measure time by the civil calendar set up by the federal government, by the academic calendar established by schools and colleges, by the “Hallmark” calendar promoted by greeting card companies, and by the personal calendar regulated by our day timers.
So here is an important question to consider for all of us who aspire to the mind of Christ: In addition to our calendars, is there such a thing as a Christian calendar? Is there a biblical way to understand, mark, and measure time and history? The answer to this question is a clear and certain, “YES!”
Early on, the Church devised a calendar which showed how Jesus fulfilled the significant events in the Jewish calendar as well as the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament as a whole. This is now called the Christian year or the Christian calendar, and its basic components tell the story about Jesus year after year as the Church gathers to worship.
• The prophetic expectation of the appearing of Christ (including His second appearing) — Advent
We are now in Advent, a four-week season in the Christian year devoted to preparing our minds and hearts for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It is also a time for the “maranatha” Church to meditate on Christ’s return as well.
• Christ’s incarnation and birth — Christmas
• Christ’s baptism and ministry — Epiphany
• Christ’s death and resurrection — Lent, Holy Week, and Easter
• Christ’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit — Pentecost
• Ordinary life in the Holy Spirit —Common Time
Now I don’t know about you, but I find the holidays a bit stressful and almost always distracting in a spiritual way. As Madeleine L’Engle observes, Advent as “a season of awe and hope has nearly been lost in the hustle and bustle of crowded shops, office parties, and the terrible anxiety that comes from not knowing that for which we are waiting.” But Advent can help us turn from the seasonal craziness, and refocus our thoughts and lives on what this important time of year is truly about: silence, prayer, and, meditation as we reflect upon the coming of Christ not only in history, but also in the present, and in the future as well. By celebrating the season of Advent, the Church encourages “every heart to prepare Him room,” and simultaneously recognizes just how important time and history are in a biblical worldview.
May you and yours have a Blessed Advent and very Merry Christmas.
Professor of Philosophy
Dallas Baptist University