I couldn’t find my copy of The Screwtape Letters which I have been reading with my English class so I picked up a Bible that was sitting close by. As I was turning to Psalm 51 I came across a little slip of paper that someone had presumably used as a bookmark. What was written on this bookmark caused a bit of a rant, and I never did get around to reading Psalm 51.
On the paper was the following information:
Sleeping – 7 || God:
Eating – 2 hrs ||
School – 6 8 10 ||
TV – 30min ||
Hobbies – 5 hrs ||
Total: 24.5 hours/day || Total 2hrs. per week
Between the list of daily activities on the left and God on the right, they had drawn a heavy line.
On the back the calculations continued:
Other things: God:
Total 1: (24.5) x 365= A Total 2: (2) x 52 = B
A = 8942.5 B = 104
Minus 5 years from age – 5 years from age
A x 12 = 107310 B x 12 = 1248
Again, between these two sets of calculations was this heavy line.
I don’t claim to know the reason for these calculations. My guess is that some well-meaning adult was trying to make the point with a group of young people–the point being they weren’t giving enough of their life over to God.
Sadly, this sort nonsense is all too common in Christian circles and the young people are particularly susceptible to taking it seriously. This is the case even if someone isn’t deliberately teaching it to them.Can you give everything to God and still have some fun? Click To Tweet
The child that made these calculations predictably fell far short of what God demands—God demands a lot, 100%. This child couldn’t get past 1%. The certain result is guilt. With this approach, you can never escape the guilt. Do we really want to be guilting our young people toward better religious performance? I think not, for it is contrary to the Gospel.
What if this seventeen-year-old spent an hour a day in prayer and meditation instead of doing homework or wasting time on that hobby? That’d certainly improve things, for they’d get God bumped up to receive 5%. Two and a half hours a day would get God around 10%; that’s like the tithe–would that be enough?
No. God demands our all—everything–so 10% just won’t cut it. Guilt!
The Separation of Nature and Grace
This whole problem starts with the premise that the things of God—spiritual things—are distinct from the things of “real” life. It’s the problem of the separation of Nature from Grace, or the Natural from the Supernatural. (I’ve posted on this problem before, here and here.)
The problem is right there in the line that the child drew down the middle of the bookmark. Unless you engage in some sort of focused devotional activity every minute of the day, every day of the week, every week of the year, you’d never be able to satisfy God’s demand on your life. But, even Jesus slept and went to the bathroom.
So get rid of the line! Hobbies and homework can’t be any less about God than singing and supplication. The only way to give everything to God is to remove the line and let him have school and eating. When we stop separating Nature from Grace, he gets both.
So, you can have fun and God at the same time–it means that he doesn’t just get a few hours on Sunday. He gets hobbies and homework. He calls the shots in your friendships and family relationships. He is lord of what comes out of your mouth and what goes in. Although this may sound restrictive, it is actually the only path to freedom and really having fun.
After this little rant, one clever image bearer asked, “How I can include God in my sleep—I can’t have Godly dreams every night.”