Chronos and Kairos- two Greek words found in scripture that both get translated TIME in our Bibles, but which have very different meanings.
Time is not on our side, or so it would seem- we are always running against the clock. And yet each of us has been given a gift of time on this earth to use as we will. We are given total freedom how we spend it. We can choose to “invest” our time and build for the future, or we can “waste” our time and end up with nothing
Chronos refers to ticking time, the orderly and relentless passing of years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds. Chronos time is inflexible and always moving. We have no control over it, and there never seems to be enough of it. Chronos has dominated western culture and society has worked to gain control over it and manage it so that efficiency could be maximized and profits would grow.
Time is money in that type of world. It is seen as a resource to be exploited. There is an illusion that there will be more time to rest and enjoy life if our work time is carefully maximized, but the goal is never reached. Real rest seems always just out of reach because we can never really “save” time, can we? Where do you put all the time you save? Is it tucked away for future use?
In the West we feel that “our time is our own”, and forget that “Our times are in His hand”. If my time is my own why can't I regain or create more of it? The fact is that time is a gift, each moment an audacious endowment from God.
Kairos is different. Kairos refers to a special moment, an opportune time, God’s chosen season. Kairos is event oriented, not clock oriented. Some cultures, particularly in the southern hemisphere, live this way. They say that church services in many parts of the world have no real starting time. People gather and begin to pray and worship and eventually someone shows up to preach the Word of God- generally for two or more hours. The clock is a non-issue. They seem more aware of God’s timing and are more open to His special moments.
The Bible is full of Kairos moments- times when God was present and had set the stage for a divine visitation. Esther lived a Kairos moment and Mordecai said to her:
“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14
Moses tended sheep for 40 years in the middle of nowhere until God shows up in a burning bush.
Saul was busy in the work of the Lord, or so he thought, until one day on his way to Damascus the Lord hit him with a two by four and called him into the real service of the Lord.
Jesus taught Martha about Kairos when she came to Him and asked Him to tell her sister Mary to help with dinner. Mary is in the Kairos- she sat and worshiped Jesus at His feet. Martha is in Chronos, worried that dinner would not be ready in time.
Redeeming the time. We are called to redeem the time, it is a scriptural mandate, but what does it mean?
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
We could look at this verse in terms of Chronos and think it is our job to make every minute count. Be efficient in our use of time for the sake of the Gospel. Don’t waste a second! Could it be that it is Kairos time that is being referred to? In fact it is…How does that change the command? Redeem the opportunities, because the days are evil. It is not a call for greater efficiency, but greater awareness of the God moments that are open to us every day.
My wife Faith described Kairos moments in her life as those times when God seemed to open a door or window and she stepped through. It is effortless and time seems to stand still. There is a great awareness of God’s presence and favor. I have the same sense in my own life.
Living in the Kairos moment eliminates fear and worry as you know that God is there and you are covered in grace. Jesus says it this way….
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8
Jesus came to this world in the ultimate Kairos moment- a supreme act of the will of the Father
Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time (Kairos) had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
He will return in the same way- at the opportune hour appointed by the Father
Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour (Kairos) no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”