Living For Jesus In The Past Or The Present?
“Living for Jesus” is one of those phrases which we can sometimes find easy to repeat. We DO mean it at the time we say it, but its reality is not a once-for-all thing. “Living for Jesus” as, say, Jesus lived for his Father, is a matter of a lifetime process. A matter of constantly seeking improvement.
If we are to improve our spiritual lives and live more fully in, and permanently for God, it would seem logical that we must pay more attention to how we are living at the present time. But how do we make the present time more effectively God’s time?
Are You Living for Jesus in the Past or the Future
It is sometimes claimed of some people that they live in the past. In other words, that they are too preoccupied with those parts of their lives which are gone that they miss the present part. But what is the present?
None of what you have read here is now in the present. It is all past! Not long past, perhaps, but past nonetheless. This is because the present can never be more than this, current, actual second of existence. No, not that one when you were just reading the last line because that is now in the past.
What this means is that, to be conscious of the present second, one needs to be explicitly conscious of the next one to come, otherwise we are always living in the past, since the present is too fleeting to capture. If that sounds illogical or unacceptable, then ask: why is a second as a measurement of time important? It isn’t.
Its just convenient as a measure of time. But in fact, half a second would do just as well – and it would be more accurate as a measure of the present because the first half of the present second has already gone and so, to live in the present, one must be living in the second half of the second. But to be more accurate, we would need to divide each half of the second into halves. The present is then the first half of the second half of that second. To be more accurate still…
MAKING THE PRESENT TIME MORE EFFECTIVE…
The only objective of the last paragraph is to emphasise the fleetingness of time and that, if we are to live more effective lives as Christians, we need to prepare for it in advance. Simply leaving things until the moment will likely change very little in our behaviour and attitudes.
Christianity is all about change. Even the greatest saint who ever lived was still far distant from what God is like and what he wants of us. There is always a need in us to change, to be different: to think and to act and to react differently.
… DEPENDS ON OUR PAST
So how can we make that change come about if we should not live in the past and the present is too fleeting to produce change itself? Certainly we should not “live in the past”, in the usual sense of that term. But equally certainly any fruits of the future, and any change in the present depend on our roots —and our roots are in the past.
Any change which we hope to bring about in our lives depends, as always, firstly on God’s grace. But it is often profoundly said that grace builds on nature; and change therefore also depends directly on our ability to examine the past and to learn from it. Any kind of learning is a very time intensive process, and learning to change spiritually is especially so.
Moreover, it requires certain qualities which other areas of learning do not require. One of the most important of these is a high degree of self-honesty. We cannot learn to overcome our faults if we are too proud to acknowledge them, even to ourselves. It also requires at least enough humility to seek whatever we need to dealt with our shortcomings. That may mean asking the Spirit for his grace and help; but sometimes it can involve seeking the assistance of other Christians, which is not always easy.
Consequently, we need a lengthy succession of present periods devoted to an analysis of our past so that our future can benefit from that learning process. The present only seems lengthy because of any continuity between successive present periods. But committing the future to the Lord is the only effective way of committing the present to him, AND the past.
Over twenty-three years in Christian healing teaching writing ministries. Wide range of secular employments before being called by the Lord into full time independent ministry in 1987. With his wife Iris he has ministered both in the UK and USA. Has written several books on healing meditation and various aspects of spirituality.
Formal qualifications include: B.A. M.Phil.Cambridge University Certificate in Religious Studies. Post Grad Cert. in Education.