Loosening Our Grip on Time for the Gospel

young woman holding pocket watch

One of the first differences you learn about when you’re living in a different culture is how people value time.

In the United States, we love schedules and strictly adhere to them. We spend money on agendas and apps that will help us manage our time. We make sure we’re on time for meetings and lunch dates with friends, because being late says we don’t value other people’s time.

South Asia, on the other hand, is completely different. Being late is OK, whether just a few minutes or a few hours. Things don’t always start at the time they’re scheduled. Getting from one place to another on time is a daily challenge due to traffic in some places.

South Asians don’t value their relationships any less because they’re late or because they see time differently. In fact, they might value them more than Americans. For them, spending time with people, no matter the hour or what they have going on later in the day, is important.

As followers of Jesus, spending time with people should be just as important to us. No matter our culture, people whom we’re close with but who are far from a relationship with Jesus should be those we are investing in regularly.

Why do we make time for relationships? The gospel coming to life in our friends who are far from God is at stake.

Even when it is inconvenient for us, we make time to invest in lost people. We even see Jesus do that in Mark 5:21–43. A synagogue leader, Jairus, implored Jesus to heal his daughter and Jesus agreed to go to his home. As they are walking along, a woman with a bleeding problem reached out and touched Jesus and was healed by Him. Jesus discovered who touched Him and told the woman, “Your faith has healed you.”

Healing Jairus’s daughter was on the schedule. Healing the woman with the bleeding problem wasn’t. And while Jesus was able to handle this change, how prone are we to get grumpy when someone in need interrupts our best-laid plans?

Is Jesus calling you to be more like our South Asian brothers and sisters and loosen your grip on time for the sake of the gospel? When you do, you’ll find that you have the time and space in your life to love your friends as Jesus does.

Emily Todd* is a cross-cultural worker serving among the people of South Asia.

*Name changed.

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