The film ‘In Time’ is a science-fiction film set in 2169 where time is, literally, money: humanity has been genetically engineered to be born with a digital clock, bearing a year’s worth of time, on their forearm. At the age of 25 a person stops ageing, but their clock begins counting down; when it reaches zero, that person “times out” and dies. Time has been turned into the universal currency; one can give time for products or services, as well as transfer it to others. The country is divided into time zones based on the wealth of its population. The film focuses on two time zones: Dayton is poor, with a populace that has learned indifference to the timed-out bodies on its streets; and New Greenwich, the wealthiest zone where inhabitants enjoy the benefits of their immortality and wealth, but are constantly surrounded by bodyguards and spend their time worried about accidental death.
The film raises interesting thoughts about wealth (time is what is stolen rather than belongings, since this is the most precious commodity in this new world) and about time. The main character, Will Salas, has spent most of his three years as a ‘timed’ adult with one day to live at the most, and, as he says wryly to the mega-rich heiress he runs away with, “you can do a lot in a day.” He is a Robin Hood type character, stealing time from the rich to give to the poor when he realises that the rich are controlling time by continually increasing the cost of living in poorer districts, living by the mantra ‘For the few to be immortal, the many must die.’
Time is one thing we are all given by God. Ecclesiastes 3:1 TNIV says, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens’. Psalm 31:15 TNIV reminds us ‘My times are in Your hands.’ Sometimes we feel that there is unfairness with time: some people live to a ripe old age; others die young; some times seem rich and prosperous; other times seem (as with Joseph) ‘lean’ and difficult. We can’t pick and choose our times. But the film’s insistent focus on ‘now’ as the only valid time we have has an excellent Biblical foundation. Jesus – the One who came ‘when the time was fully right’, ‘when the set time had fully come’ (Gal 4:4 TNIV) – urged His followers to live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:25-34 TNIV), telling us that each day has enough trouble of its own. James echoes this advice in James 4:13-17 TNIV, reminding us that our futures are in God’s hands and we should not use our time to focus exclusively on looking after ourselves (as the rich inhabitants of ‘New Greenwich’ did) but should use our time wisely for God’s kingdom. Paul reminded the Corinthians of the urgency of the gospel, telling them ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.’ (2 Cor 6:2 TNIV)
‘Now’ is all we have. We need to be wise in how we spend our time; we need to understand the times (Rom 13:11 TNIV); we need to accept the gift of today which God has given and use it wisely.