by Nick Setterington
One of the (many) downsides of social media is how it trains our minds and affections to be in-the-know. How can we combat the temptation to follow every breaking news story or new life-update filling our phones and inboxes? We can battle the desire to know with the art of remembering.
Remember brothers and sisters in prayer. Paul says to Timothy, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day” (2 Timothy 1:3). To the Ephesians he writes, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:16). It’s so easy to get caught up in following the breaking news of our day. The irony is most of it wouldn’t have been newsworthy 50 years ago, and most of it will be forgotten next week, yet somehow we’re constantly being allured to follow the drama of our times. But there’s no lasting significance in gawking at our world’s gossip. Instead God gives us the privilege of seeking, initiating, and working divine plans through our prayers. An hour of useless scrolling pales in comparison to an hour of active prayer. If you think, “I don’t have time to pray,” I bet your iPhone log would say differently. We are constant in a lot of things; unfortunately prayer isn’t one of them. So next time you find yourself distracted with scrolling, divert your attention to praying. Who can you pray for today, remembering their work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope (1 Thess. 1:3)?
Remember the persecuted church. The author of Hebrews says, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:3). When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer together (1 Corinthians 12:26-27). No matter how bad our political problems may seem, they don’t compare to the persecution happening in China, Iran, Syria, and countless other places. How often do you pray for brothers and sisters who are imprisoned for their faith? How often do we plead with God to give us boldness to stand for the gospel in our context as they have courageously done in theirs? We can remember the persecuted church as we pray for it and learn from their example (Tim Keesee’s A Company of Heroes is a good place to start).
Remember the goal. The Christian life is a marathon that hasn’t timed out yet. The clock is still ticking. Some are in the first mile; others are in the final lap. But the race isn’t over, so as good athletes we press on toward the goal, which is the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). In the book of Revelation, we see a description of the church in Sardis. They seemed alive on the outside, but inwardly they were dying. They still had work to do. Their race wasn’t finished, but apparently some had quit and gone their own way. Jesus says to them, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent” (Revelation 3:2-3). We all still have work to do! Let us wake up. Let us remember what we’ve received. In what ways do you need to press on in repentance from sin and growing in faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Remember the gospel. The gospel is the genesis and the generator of the Christian life, but like a lost sheep wandering from the fold, we are in constant danger of moving away from the very thing that gives us life. Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15), not because they forgot who Jesus was, but because their hearts and minds were fixed on other things. Paul commands Timothy, a young pastor, to “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). Remembering the gospel is like mining a rich mineral deposit – the deeper you dig, the more riches you’ll uncover. The evil one is clever; he knows he can’t compete as long as the Christian stays in the gospel quarry. So his goal is to move us away, to get us into other mines. Sports, politics, careers and hobbies can easily become anti-gospel pits if we’re not careful. Ask yourself, “What issue or thing captures most of my attention and passion? Is it the gospel, or is it something that will soon be forgotten?” Remember the gospel. Let us be people who are marked and known by a love for the gospel above all other loves.
A life shaped by the art of remembering is a life that will spiritually flourish in troubled times. Let us be people who are committed to remembering.