Weekly column from France: Time concerns us all


Christian Life

Marc Derœux, CNE.news

Photo AFP, Alain Jocard

It's on everyone's lips and in every debate in France now. It is everywhere, on television, on the radio, on the front pages of the newspapers, in the bar, in private circles and around the coffee machine at work.

The single word "retirement" has even managed to mobilise between one and two million demonstrators across France. Young and old, from all social classes are expressing their concern this week about the reform that President Macron's government will present to the National Assembly this week. Some demonstrators see their revolt as an action against what they see as a rollback of social gains.


Marc Derœux (1965) is a French pastor, connected to the Baptist Federation (FEEBF).

At the moment, he serves as the director of the language school Center des Cèdres in Massy (near Paris).

Before, he served as a minister in Lille, Lyon and Valence. He is involved in the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF).

Derœux is married to the schoolteacher Catherine, with whom he has three children.

Even my wife, a teacher in the public school system, although not inclined to strike, decided to follow the strikers' movement last week to show her concern. It is true that a reform is necessary, but not in the terms proposed, with a two-year increase in the legal retirement age and the number of trimesters of contributions.

Moreover, the experts themselves admit that the system is not really in danger. This only adds to the incomprehension of a population that considers this reform unfair and inappropriate for more than 72% of the French.


Beyond the sometimes-technical debates that elude many people, this debate makes me wonder about the meaning we give to work, and therefore to rest, in our societies. Often seen as an alienation rather than a source of fulfilment, work weighs heavily on people's lives, on their morale and on their health. We can understand the desire of many to retire at an age when they can still enjoy their time, if possible, in good physical condition and with a decent financial income.

In a society where everything moves extremely fast, too fast, it is important to think about how we use our time. Compared to the times of our grandparents, we have more and more time, especially for leisure, i.e. "Doing nothing". But time is a constant and vital paradox for every living being. In our society, for example, there are those who look for time to finish their work, sometimes with 15-hour days, and those who look for work to fill their time... We live in a funny world!


So how should we respond as Christians? Are we masters of time, or is time our master? In the Bible, God invites us to rest, as a place of renewal, as a space of liberation. In a world in perpetual frenzy, in a world that is tired, worn out, scattered, in a world that no longer has time, God invites us to rest far from the search for profit, in hope and in peace.

It is true that we live in time, it dominates us. Yet, we are also masters and responsible for the time given to us. What I do with my time is what I do with my life. And if time is "what measures a transformation", to use Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber's expression, then my life will be measured by the transformation it will have registered, following the example of Christ, throughout the time that has been allotted to me.

Balanced life

The desire for rest after a long life of work is legitimate and even desirable for a balanced life. The question that concerns me is the meaning I give to my life, and therefore how and for what I use my time. I admire those people who, after retirement, still in the prime of life, spend their time by caring for those in need.

From a biblical perspective, the rest celebrated on the Sabbath is a sign of hope and a place of reconciliation of man with his Creator, with himself and with his neighbour. Man is invited to live in the Kingdom of God, that is, in communion with God, the Lord of time, with his neighbour and with the rest of creation. Man must remember that he does not live for himself or for his work.

From now on, man must manifest this hope: to live the Sabbath is to refuse the exploitation of man by man, the fatality of war and the reign of stupidity. The reality of this rest goes beyond the reality of our work and leisure because it reminds us of the meaning of our life, in an enthusiastic way, that is, etymologically "in God".

Retirement, yes, but for what end and for whom?



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.