The Intimacy of Time (1 of 4)

The economic axiom “time is money” is often misunderstood as meaning that the value of money is equal to the value of time – when in fact, it is more correctly understood as meaning that money only has value because of the time value it represents. Money has no innate value – hay bales of hundred dollar bills on a desert island, that can’t be spent, are nothing more than kindling! Conversely, time is the value measurement of the common wage, which in turn, confers value on the good or services provided. And given enough time, a common object, if well preserved, can command a pretty penny from an avid collector.

So needless to say, time is a precious commodity, regardless of what shape it takes. You spend your entire life spending this currency, exchanging one moment for the next — sometimes carelessly, sometimes with grave intent . . . but always in unrecoverable amounts. And as someone who has already spent the larger sum of what I’ve been given – what remains takes on even greater value to me. But in a very real sense, I invested all of those years in the wisdom that only experience can afford – an investment I am currently drawing dividends from now.

And I’ve learned that not only is time an irreplaceable invaluable resource and an irreducible incubator of wisdom – but it is also a profoundly intimate gift we give to one another. Whether it’s a leisurely shared conversation between good friends, hours spent engaging children or grandchildren, or a weekend get-a-away taken with your spouse – time spent with others creating memories has a particular type of intimacy that lingers with you long after the events of such shared experiences have passed . . . because these are the moments we treasure most.

Now, when you consider how Jesus, God incarnate, chose to enter time and space, experiencing the visceral existence of humanity, moment by moment for more than three decades, in order that we might be redeemed and reconciled – I can’t think of a more intimate way that he could have done it. And when you consider that the Gospels only accounts for a few weeks of actually recorded events, and that the ministry of Jesus with his disciples was three years – most of the time he invested in them likely had the mundane day-to-day rhythms of just hanging out . . . like friends do. This too strikes me as having a wonderfully sweet and priceless intimacy.

The presence of God transcends every dimension (including the fourth), for all things exist in Him. It is this very omnipresence in times of sorrow and struggle where we find comfort, or in times of thanksgiving and praise we experience Him with us. And this is how we know that there is great power in just being present, because it is a gift of immeasurable worth . . . a gift we are capable of giving to one another. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ~ Matthew 18:20. Sounds to me like an invitation to show up and spend a little time with each other . . . and let Jesus make that time worth your while.

. . . and remember — we live our lives one moment at a time.

Life at Market Value

Economically speaking, a good or service only has the value someone is willing to pay for it — this is the driving principle behind the economic law of supply and demand. This is likely because identifying the value of anything, economic or otherwise, is an evaluative process, one that on some level, requires a philosophical assessment of what constitutes value. So even if you’re the type of person to trust all of those serious people, wearing lab coats, to tell you if something has value or not – in truth, you’re only allowing them, by proxy, to do your philosophic assessments for you . . . because science is incapable of assessing value.

But this isn’t to suggest that science doesn’t play an important role in informing our philosophical assessments. For example: If they were to exhume your body a thousand years from now, not only would they be able to correctly identify your species and gender – but they would also be able to identify it as your body, because DNA is that specific an identifier. So scientifically speaking, DNA is inextricably tied to personhood. Begging the question – exactly when does this DNA distinctive first occur for each of us?

Turns out, our distinctive DNA occurs at conception. So whatever philosophical assessment process you employ for determining the value of human life, you will likely have to accommodate the specific personhood of the unborn – that is, if you’re actually interested in acknowledging the personhood of every human. And you’d think that would be the default philosophy of most people – but you’d be wrong . . . if history is any indicator. Because pronouncing certain people groups as sub-human is precisely how genocide and slavery have always been justified.

When asked if human life is valuable, most folks without hesitation will answer – yes. If asked – what makes it valuable? Most will offer an answer that is either based in pragmatism, or in sentimentality – which makes for a very interesting threshold. Because to this way of thinking, as long as a sub-group is viewed as pragmatically or sentimentally valuable, they have nothing to fear – but if the tide of cultural ethos and opinion should shift . . . then all bets are off. And given that the whole of morality is predicated on how we esteem the value of human life – it’s no wonder that a culture mired in the moral ambiguity of existential relativism, would end up balkanizing into identity group factions, arguing why their faction should be validated and valued as being specifically significant, compared with others.

imagesThis is what human life at market value looks like – each sub-group making its case for why it matters . . . which invariably leads to the de-valuing of some other sub-group, by comparison. But here’s the thing – if we’re to believe that all human life has an innate value, then it’s value must be a transcendently sourced assessment. Apart from such an assessment, human value is left to the vagaries of imposed will, each sub-group seeking to assume the role of arbiter . . . believing that you’re either the one calling the shots – or you’re the one being shot at.

It is the profession of the Christian gospel that “God so loved the world . . .” (John 3:16). And it is the bloodless conclusion of Nietzsche that humanity is locked in a struggle of “will to power”. One pronouncing us all as the beloved of God – an immeasurable value. The other believing we’re all hopelessly caught in a perpetual struggle, intent on determining who among us is worthy enough to evolve. I know this makes for a rather stark comparison – but apparently, until we’re willing to really embrace this contrast, then we’ll be tempted to believe we’re the ones who get to determine the value of human life.


. . . and just in case you’ve forgotten — God believes in you.