Gospel Mathematics

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I’ve always loved words. Words, I get. The subtleties of linguistic nuance, I appreciate.

I despised math. I’m not sure if it was my slightly ‘left-of-centre’ eighth-grade teacher or not, but walking into a math lesson was a frightening ordeal. My eyes still glaze over at the mere mention of, “Can you look over these figures?”

But stick with me here. There are some important equations that must be considered. It’s time we ran the numbers.

The gospel was never intended to serve a fraction of our lives or live out an existence behind the decimal point of your week. The gospel should not, and must not, be relegated to a single slice of the pie in the chart of our lives.

The gospel was never intended to serve a fraction of our lives. The gospel must not be relegated to a single slice of the pie in the chart of our lives.

Take a look at all the Christian literature being produced at the moment and you will see an encouraging amount of ‘gospel-centered (fill in the blank)’ material.

I am extremely grateful. God knows we have needed this renewed attention. I’m thrilled to see  writers and bloggers trying to put the focus back on the gospel—using it to shape gatherings, liturgy and sermons. I’ve eagerly hit the share button in countless posts on ‘gospel-centred song selection’, or ‘Cross-shaped preaching’, or even on one occasion, ‘The gospel and your welcome team’.

I do not in any way want to diminish the significance of this renewed attention to the gospel and its application to the community of God’s people. However, it must be pointed out again, that this community of the redeemed doesn’t only exist in its gathered form. The gospel must inform more than just those moments of getting-together.

Gospel Mathematics

The gospel is the whole, or the gospel is nothing.

Let’s do the math.

You and I are granted 24 hours in a day; no more and no less.

In any given week our allotted hours add up to 168. Let’s factor in 8 hours of good sleep a night, and if my calculations are correct, we’re left with 112 waking hours per week.

The gospel of Jesus and his apostles must shape every one of those waking hours (there is even something to be said about ‘resting’ in the gospel). Yet, so often, we neglect to think about what that means in our individual everyday lives. The focus has shifted to the church-gathered at the expense of the church scattered. It’s these scattered hours that I want us to consider.

The church at which I minister comes together for its main gathering once a week; this ‘gathering together’ usually lasts for about 2 hours. We’ve laboured hard to ensure what we do during that time is informed and shaped by the gospel we love. We sing gospel songs. We pray gospel prayers. We speak gospel truths. We minister to one another in gospel contexts. For two hours every week, we are a visibly gospel-saturated community of redeemed people.

So now we have 110 hours left. How is the gospel shaping those hours?

How will the gospel be shaping the 14 hours a week we spend eating? Or the 14 hours we spend sitting in traffic? Or the 50 hours you are contracted to an employer—are they off-limits to the gospel? What do our hours scrolling Facebook or Twitter have to do with the gospel?

If you eat for a collective total of two hours a day to fuel your body, how much time is required to fuel your soul? How does the gospel shape your ‘leisure’, or dare I say it, even your ‘pleasure’? Can I really ever talk about ‘me time’?

When Moses cries out in Psalm 90:12, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom,” might he be asking us to do more than wonder how long we’ll walk this earth? Mightn’t he be asking us to consider how we might ‘redeem the time’—even as he asks God to “establish the work of our hands”?

Numbering Our Days

Our time is short. We need to be careful with our time. As Paul says:

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  (Ephesians 5:14-17)

Don’t ignore the numbers.

Don’t allow the gospel to simply colour your day. Let’s labour and strive to see it so saturate our daily lives that it flavours every mundane moment. Let’s seek to have it permeate our existence to the point that it shapes our all our schedules and seasons.

The cross was required for more than two hours on a Sunday.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” 

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