Time binding. I have been reading about time-binding. Lest you write me off as a sci-fi person (which I most certainly am not, though I seem to be raising children who are… never say never), allow me to explain myself.
Time binding is not time bending or some other time-space continuum talk which is well above my pay grade. Rather, it is a concept studied by Alfred Korzbyski which I came across in Present Shock, the most fascinating book I have read in a while.
Korzybski noticed that in addition to storing energy (like plants storing energy photosynthesized during sunlight for darkness and winter) and storing space (like a squirrel gathering nuts from all over and placing them into its niche), humans also store or bind time.
While time-binding might sound like something only an Avenger could do, it is something we all do regularly. Douglas Rushkoff wrote the following explaining Korzybski’s concept.
We can take the experiences of one generation and pass it on to the next generation through language and symbols. We can still teach our children things like hunting or fishing in real time, but our lessons can also be compressed into stories, instructions, and diagrams. The information acquired by one generation can be passed on more efficiently than if each subsequent generation needed to learn everything through experience.
Rushkoff describes this action as spring-loading time: if time were a spring, we compress ages of learning and information, passing it on in shorter period of time. This concept of spring-loaded time helped me understand the significant activity that happens within Christian discipleship in a new light.
Discipleship as Time-binding
Passing on information is nothing new. In fact, the passing on both the theological tenants of the gospel along with its practical implications on life within the context of an intentional relationship is as old as the Christian church.
In his last letter to his young protege Timothy, the Apostle Paul perfectly captures the heart of discipleship with its time binding properties.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach other’s also. 2 Timothy 2: 1-2.
Paul had spent countless years of his life doing life with the young Timothy. In addition to knowing the gospel, they knew each other’s strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and stories of upbringing. Timothy knew Paul’s preaching style, the lines he used to transition surface-level conversations with those around them into significant conversations that might move toward spiritual things. Timothy learned from Paul’s experience how to suffer well, how to fight against living for the approval of man, and how to persevere even in the presence of mounting pressure and hostilities.
Knowing he was nearing the end of his life on this earth (which he welcomed… for to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21), he urged Timothy to pass this eternally critical information on to the next generation.
Timothy was to live his life faithfully, binding the lessons he learned as he walked with God through the Spirit and the Word and compressing them to pass them along to the next spiritual iteration.
This exponentially multiplicative process has been ongoing since Christ ascended back to His father, leaving the Spirit to guide his rag-tag crew of disciples in the continued advance of God’s kingdom.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. We have so much to learn from the spiritual successes and failures of the generations of saints who have gone before us, binding the lessons they learned and spring-loading us for the future. And the coming iterations of the kingdom of God will use the information bound by us and spring-loaded into their lives through our discipleship of them.
As I was reading about and mulling over these concepts, the Lord was gracious to bring two real life examples into my life, one to our kitchen table and the other to my office.
A friend came over to catch up and enjoy a meal with our family. He shared about his parent’s marriage and how God had enabled him to speak into their relationship at a very critical juncture. With tears of relief in his eyes, he shared about how all the years of training and discipleship he received during his college days had spring-loaded him for that very moment in their marriage. The countless workout sessions with a mentor, the weekly Bible studies, the seasonal retreats, the silly outings… all had been compressed into the wisdom he would need to help his parents reconcile.
Then, just yesterday, I sat down with a retired woman from my church. She was begging for ways invest all the time-binding she had been doing for a lifetime in the lives of the next generation. She said, “I am not getting any younger. I want to get to work passing along these things to new believers.”
Oh, that we might not only carefully number and invest the time we have been given but also bind it to pass it along to the coming generations. May we spring load the spiritual springs of the future that the gospel and its implications might continue its work until Christ returns.