Pen Points 15
Redeem the Time
Samuel Beckett, in an analysis of Proust, spoke of having no escape from “from the hours and the days. Neither from tomorrow nor from yesterday because yesterday has deformed us, or been deformed by us.… Yesterday is not a milestone that has been passed, but a daystone on the beaten track of the years, and irremediably part of us, within us, heavy and dangerous. We are not merely more weary because of yesterday, we are other, no longer what we were before the calamity of yesterday.” (Martin Esslin, The Theatre of the Absurd, p. 50).
That may seem a rather bleak outlook on what the passing of time does to us, but there is something here to consider. The phrase that strikes me is that “yesterday has deformed us, or been deformed by us.” There is some truth in this, particularly so if we have not redeemed the time given to us. How often have I wasted the day or the week and more, frittering away the precious hours with meaningless and thoughtless activities that have little substance? I would not want to know that answer. Do we hear echoes of Ecclesiastes?
But God gives us a reason to live, to rejoice, and to follow a purpose. The shame that we feel at wasting our time can be forgiven and the time redeemed so that we move forward in renewal. Shattered lives can be rebuilt. This is not without the scars of the past, but, like Jesus carrying the scars of the cross, we are raised up to walk new lives. And in these new lives we can see the greater goal of our final resurrection and eternity with the Lord.
So let us seek to redeem the time because the days are evil (Eph 5:15-17). We seek to “live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Pet 4:2). We’ve spent enough time in folly, letting our yesterdays deform us or being deformed by us. Even the thief on the cross next to Jesus could redeem the few moments he had left to give himself to the Lord.
Death and Resurrection Meaning
Without the death of Christ, the resurrection would not be meaningful. Now that sounds obvious, so why say it? Because I’m not just talking about death; I am talking specifically about Christ’s redeeming death. If Jesus died and rose again without His death for sin, then His resurrection would not mean anything for us. It would only mean that someone rose from the dead with no further significance. It’s “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:19) as a ransom that infuses the resurrection with such great meaning and gives us hope.
Conversely, without the resurrection, the death of Christ cannot be meaningful, for “if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith” (1 Cor 15:14). His resurrection gives us hope for life because His death atones for sin.
The gospel is a total package: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” (1 Cor 15:3-5).
How will this affect you today?
Lordship and the Word
The recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is integrally linked to His word as recorded in Scripture: “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48).
The only way we know the words of Jesus is by the recorded testimony of the Spirit. We cannot discern this according to what we may feel, for feelings are fickle and selfish and we are taught to deny self (Luke 9:23). The question we continually face, then, is this: Will I keep Scripture as primary in my thinking and decision-making or will I operate autonomously to determine my own standard of authority?
This lies at the heart of the feelings-v-Scripture, the tradition-v-Scripture, and the personal experience-v-Scripture debates. Is Scripture primary or secondary?
Bear in mind that any appeal to the Holy Spirit must be tempered by what the Holy Spirit has revealed, for, again, we are asking whether we accept Scripture as the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Personal claim and feelings do not prove anything relative to what the Spirit actually does. I do not deny the working of the Spirit, but I do deny that the Spirit would contradict Himself or operate in some vague, proof-less arena of feeling-based claims, for “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8).
Jesus is the Word who gave His word, ensured His word, and by the Spirit recorded His word that we might know Him. “Let God be true though every one were a liar.”