Updated: Jun 7, 2021
This Sunday we’re singing that well known hymn, and it made me wonder a little about what we’re thinking when we sing it. For while some of us have the real privilege of being able to devote all our time to help building God’s Kingdom (or a labourer in the vineyard if you prefer the Old Testament imagery better) the reality for the overwhelming majority is that we have to squeeze things in between competing convictions.
We have responsibilities to our work and family, there is the need for sleep and eating, we need to have down-time and leisure, then there are church activities – services, home groups prayer meetings and serving in some way. Although we would love to give our lives to God, the reality is that we probably only have a few spare hours each week at best.
How did we get to this point? Clearly the world is a very different place than the world of the early church when we read in Acts of the shared lives of the early church that saw so many keen to join the community of faith. In part it is due to the rise of individualism in Western Europe seen in particular in our approach to our homes. It is the place we retreat and shut the world out, where we have down time or me time. It is an essential for us in our ever busier and demanding world, where I can look after me.
Yet not every culture lives like this. There are places where the importance of community and family means that discussions are around what is good for us. Decisions made involve the community, and the business of the individual is the business of the community. Lives are shared, there are no secrets. This makes living out faith and belief so much easier.
Isn’t it intriguing that at a time when we are more and more isolated, living our individual lives, that we have seen an explosion on social media – with people sharing mundane and unimportant aspects of their lives? We shut our doors yet invite people in anyway. People long for this involvement, to connect, be part of something that is more, ultimately to be part of a significant community.
What if we compartmentalised our lives a little less? What if our down time became an opportunity to share our lives with others. What if this is the “my life” bit that needs to be consecrated to Jesus? We’d look upon it as an opportunity to spend it with others, not through social media (although by all means do it if you wish to) but with others – friends, neighbours, work colleagues, praying that as they share our lives, they would see the difference that Jesus makes in our lives? What if we showed people how you can truly be part of a significant community?
Yes, I know Jesus often withdrew to a quiet place to pray, and if you’re like me that sounds far more appealing – yet Jesus was also very visible and shared his life with all kinds of different people. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all be doing that too?