The word posture is defined like this: “position, condition, or state, as of affairs.”
In a physical sense, your posture is how you generally hold yourself. It’s not a static term, meaning that you always are sitting or standing or bending. All of us do those things a thousand times a day. Your posture, though, is the general position. In fact, it’s your posture that influences the way you hold yourself in all those other movements. It determines just how you stand or sit or bend.
I have wondered, from time to time, what my posture is in life, especially as it relates to the gospel. What is my general position? What is the manner in which I hold myself which influences all the other particular motions and movements that I might make? What is the general position that influences how I work? How I parent? How I attend worship services and go to the movies?
There are many things we might say about the posture of a Christian – that it is humble; that it is grateful; that it is confident. But we must also say that the gospel compels us to have a posture of availability. Here’s how Paul described such a posture in Ephesians 5:15-16:
“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”
Be available. You have a finite number of minutes each day, and each of those minutes has opportunities to press the gospel further out and further in. A posture of availability recognizes this reality and acts accordingly. A posture of availability is convinced that God is active, and as His agent, we should be aware of opportunities that will come into our path.
Sounds simple enough, I know, to be available to make the most of the opportunities before you. So what keeps us from having such a posture?
Here are a few things that can distort our state and make us unavailable for what is coming our way in the day ahead:
An inflated ego
Sometimes we don’t have an available posture because we think too highly of ourselves. We don’t want to engage in a conversation with this person or that one because, truth be told, we think we are too educated, too important, or too busy to do so. Ironically, though, our inflated egos might not necessarily find its root in thinking too highly of ourselves, but too lowly. We might be convinced that we are the only ones on earth with difficulty, and because we are, we spent all our time in a spiral of self-focus, thinking only about our own lives and issues and therefore becoming completely oblivious to those around us. In either case, though, whether our egos are inflated because of our relative prosperity or relative suffering, we find ourselves in an unavailable posture because of our heightened sense of self-importance.
An overcommitted lifestyle
A posture of availability is contingent upon, well, being available. And when we are overbooked, with our schedules and commitments running over the top of the minutes we have in the day, we cannot be available. If, for example, we constantly press and press and press and then when we eventually come home we are too exhausted to engage with our children, to talk with them about life and the Lord and the gospel, we are ignoring the opportunities right in front of us. In order to assume a posture of availability, we must take an active role in our schedules to make sure there is room. Always room.
A forgotten past
Paul the apostle, in his teaching, seemed always intent on reminding people of who they once were. Maybe that’s because he lived with the knowledge of who he once was. This isn’t some kind of morbid fixation on the past, but rather an intentional effort to keep in mind that we, like the apostle, like everyone else, once were lost in darkness. We once were going our own way. We once didn’t know up from down or right from left. But having believed the message of the gospel, our eyes have been opened and we have been set on the path of righteousness. But when walking on that path, we sometimes forget where we came from. When we do, it’s easy to be unavailable to those on that same path.
God in the gospel has brought us into the light. And having been positioned there, it is our good and right posture to be available. To make room. To create margin. And to actively look in our availability to press the gospel further out and further in.
Michael Kelley is the Director of Discipleship at Lifeway, and author of Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life