Urgency is the speed and intensity in which we do things: work deadlines, last minute sports comebacks, 1st date punctuality rule when you are stuck in traffic, searching for a child’s lost favorite stuffed animal that must be found, now! It’s what makes things suddenly possible. We find time where no time previously existed. We become innovative, motivated, collaborative, passionate, persevering, purposeful, adrenaline-charged sweaty people when we have urgency about something we care about.
We were born with an urgency to succeed [Eccl. 4:4]. Evil leaders are driven to rule [2 Tim. 3:13]. Culture relentlessly seeks to shape our character and desires [Rom. 12:2; 1 Jn. 2:15,16]. Dark spiritual forces exist to inflict evil on us [Matt. 13:28-30; Eph. 6:12].
Do we as followers of Jesus Christ have an equal urgency for the things of God?
“Look carefully then how you walk,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” [Eph. 5:15,16]. Paul wrote to the Ephesian church that they were to walk in God’s good works [2:10], in a manner worthy of their calling [4:1], in a different way than the pagans do [4:17], in love [5:2], as children of light [5:8] and as wise people who sensed the evil of their day [5:15,16]. But there’s a vast difference between doing these things with urgency verses doing these things without it. Perhaps the most tragic place to be is where we believe something to be spiritually true, but live as if there is was all the time in the world to do it.
Urgency is the missing component of our discipleship. It is the way Jesus discipled others. With the exception of him repeatedly telling them that he was going to to leave them, almost every other experience the disciples had with Jesus was marked by surprise and immediacy. What if we discipled people the same way? (Wouldn’t that make us popular…). What would our lives look like if we lived as if our days were numbered [Ps. 90:12], if we lived as if the return of Christ was imminent [Luke 21:34] or that our lives were here for a moment, then gone like the mist [James 4:14]? We need to live with a sense of vaporous urgency.
Spiritual maturity is largely about urgency. The more spiritually mature we become, the shorter our reaction time should be from the time God speaks a word into our lives and how long it takes us to obey. The broader our understanding of God, the shorter the gap time should be between command and obedience [Ps. 119:32].
False doctrine can attack your mind. Worldly temptations can compromise your holiness. Evil people/laws can challenge you as a disciple. But one of the enemy’s greatest strategies against the church is to capitalize on our own desire for spiritual comfort, safety and predictability (which even the most faithful among us struggle with). The reality is that a relationship with God is none of these. The older we get, the more spiritually mature we become, the more ministry experience we have, the more urgency we should have for the things of God. Not the reverse. For those of us who are older in the faith, what are we modeling for the younger generations? Urgency is what sanctifies spiritual boredom and worldly busyness.
The church is the place where urgency is tested and revealed in its purest form. Christians who have an immediacy for the things of God have to do it without the artificial inducements that usually motivate urgency in other areas of our lives: money, job security, being thrown in the brig for insubordination, receiving a failing grade, being kicked off the team. The church should be the place that attracts the most urgent people because she offers the most urgent mission on the face of the planet: changed lives for eternity. What God could do through his church when the church lives as if the time was short.
God has urgency. He proved it when Jesus came for you. So must we. We’re living in a time of accelerated moral and spiritual collapse. The irony is that if the church doesn’t have an urgency for her mission, the “days of evil” that Paul talked about will force it upon her.