Abiding in a mobile world.
You can chase the idea of mobility and culture in several directions. People in the real estate world are primarily interested in relocation mobility, the rate with which we Americans move from one residence to another. That kind of mobility is in the recovery room right now, showing some new life after the housing world took a dive several years ago. My take on mobility is more constant and basically local. When I'm talking mobility I'm talking about the motion of daily life, the hubbub of traffic, schedules, too much to do, too many places to be, children asleep in the car, and meals scarfed down on the run. This is a contemporary status marker, the busy life, a self-esteem bullet. Harriet and I laughed about it as we considered retirement and new chapters three years ago. Every person we consulted in our age cohort told us that they were busier than ever before in their retirement. Even more, few are the modern sophisticates who will admit to anything other that a mad-dog daily agenda. In this world to be sedate or motionless is equated to being a slacker.
It is a mobile world. Soon I'll be reading one of my favorite annual reads, The Secular City by liberal Harvard professor Harvey Cox (Macmillan Company, New York, 1965). It's somewhat amusing that Cox penned his prophesy about the future more than five decades ago, while i was still in high school. He predicted that the coming secular city would be shaped by two power influences: anonymity and mobility. Technological development, social media, and transportation advances would eventually characterize what Cox pictured as "the man in the cloverleaf". It is the quick-time image we're all living. Cox explored what it would mean to live in that mobile world. He presumed that high mobility would displace humans from the sacred. He reminded his readers that faith in the Old Testament developed in the nomadic, homeless world of the Hebrew nation. While society and culture typically viewed this mobility in negative terms, liberal Cox reminded readers in the '60's that God had promised to be with his people no matter their mobile status.
I personally find little connection to Cox's liberal theology. Just the same, there is much in Scripture about about the spiritual discipline of abiding. It is a concept that carried over from the Old Testament account of God's leadership of Israel to the New Testament reality of God becoming flash and dwelling, or abiding, with us. What is more, the New Testament gives us the wonderful Greek ideal of "meno", simply meaning to abide or remain, and it's many derivative and related terms. My favorite in this context is noted in John's writing, where the word "meno" is translated "to abide" and is used so many times, 34 times in the Gospel, and 19 additional times in the Epistles. Abiding or remaining in Christ is a central theme in John 15. It is how believers are supposed to live in every cultural situation, especially in times of great mobility.
This ideal of abiding produces in us an intimacy with Christ that cannot be broken by movement . At the beginning of this New Year it reminds me of the eternal truth of John 15:5, one of the significant abide passages. Jesus said---
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears
much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5, ESV
You and I live in this highly mobile world. God sent us to this time and place so that we could influence this particularly unique era of motion and movement. My challenge is to nurture his promised presence in my life and abide in him even as I navigate these mobile times. This means developing strong personal devotional, worship, Bible study, and fellowship routines so that I can abide in him even as the world moves at such an accelerated pace.
The Psalmist wrote, "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" (Psalm 46:10, ESV). Creating moments of stillness is the spiritual discipline for believers to fulfill that societal influence in such mobile times. It translates that I must learn be still so that I can abide and remain spiritually in the motion of such a world.
It's 2018. Life is mobile, fast, and complex. Lord teach me to abide in a mobile world.
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