We used to speak of the Tyranny of the Urgent. It is time for us now to also address the Tyranny of the Moment. Although backing this up statistically would be hard, my instinct is that there has never been a group of people so slavishly beholden to the moment, to the right now, as we are. Our addiction to social media and the 24-hour news cycle exerts a growing pressure to believe that what's happening right now is the most important thing. As the great American theologians Van Halen said, "Right now, c'mon, it's everything...right here and now, it means everything." Consequently, there are few better ways for the church to be counter-cultural salt and light than to show the world how to stop living in the moment.
If we can categorize time into the past, present and future, Scripture would lead us to see the present as taking last place in importance. 1 Peter 1:3 reminds us that we have been "born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven for [us], who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." For the point of this post, we could note the following truths:
- The means of our rebirth is found in the past, historical event of Jesus' resurrection.
- The goal of our rebirth is found in the future, in our heavenly inheritance...so much so that Peter implies our salvation isn't even fully revealed until the "last time."
- Verse seven continues the same pattern, asserting that our trials are designed to give praise to Jesus at his "revelation."
We are being discipled by our hearts and the world around us to view the past and future through the lens of the present, putting a new spin on what C.S. Lewis dubbed chronological snobbery. But God's Word repeatedly and gently draws us back into the past and sends us soaring into the future, so that we might reverse the trend and begin to see the present through the lens of the past and the future.
Just imagine how getting out of the moment would change you, or us. Imagine if Christians were steady and faithful because their identity is rooted in something that happened 2,000 years ago. Imagine if the church was a place of great peace because we were able to trust the King who has secured our true treasure in an unbreakable vault. Imagine if Jesus' victory over death and His promises of heaven shone brightly on your current struggles, rather than those struggles casting shadows on your faith.
This is the genius of spiritual disciplines, both private and corporate. Spiritual disciplines are how we accept God's invitation away from the moment, back to the past and forward to the future. Every time we open the Bible instead of Twitter, we are allowing the past to give us hope for the future. Every time we fast, we are reminding our bodies and souls that the pains of this life aren't worth being compared to the glories of the next. Every time we come to worhsip, we testify to each other and the world that the most important thing isn't what's happening right now, but what happened at the cross and what will happen when Jesus returns.
Which is all to say, let's stop living in the moment.