Speaking Of Life 4003 | The Myth of Instancy
Most of us remember the dial-up internet of the past—and by past, we don’t mean very long ago, maybe a couple of decades ago. The website scrolled down the page at an incredibly slow pace. It was so frustrating to use, most of us kind of ignored the internet.
And good luck if anyone answered the phone and shut you down—you had to redial and start the whole thing over!
Now the target speed for a website download is two seconds. Information goes from our living room to a satellite and across the world as fast as light fills a room. We live in an instantaneous world. We can watch thousands of tv shows, several 24-hour news programs, and millions of hours of bad movies with just a click on a remote.
Unfortunately, it’s too easy to take this instantaneous attitude into our spiritual lives. We tend to think that Christlikeness will follow conversion, like some kind of simple equation. It’s almost like we want to download the character of Christ into our lives, and if it doesn’t happen right away there’s something wrong.
We might look at famous passages like this and see immediate spiritual gratification:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:4-6 (ESV)
A look at the language here helps us out:
“Rejoice in the Lord always… do not worry about anything…” These phrases are a grammatical construct called the present imperative. They point to prolonged habit, discipline—or as one theologian called it “a long obedience in the same direction.”
In other words, it takes time. The shifting and shaping into Christ-centered maturity doesn’t happen immediately. They aren’t meant to. The power of the Holy Spirit works in amazing and surprising ways, but so often it is the slow erosion and reshaping of day after day and year after year. Learning, relearning, and going deeper.
The point is, we don’t want to let the myth of instancy dictate the way we pursue Christ. Let’s stay in step with the Spirit, trusting that he will get us where we need to be, even if the journey is long.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.