Keeping Time with Jesus: Chronos, Kairos and the Second Coming – Part 5

http://theworldofmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/world-of-more-time.jpegLet’s have a quick recap.  We’ve been talking about chronos and kairos – God’s way of keeping time.  There’s chronos time of working and waiting, the ordinary passage of seconds, minutes and hours.  Then there’s the moments where heaven invades earth, God moves and chronos seems to stop for kairos to take place.

Christians are like surfers who’ve caught the wave, experienced God, and now we live working and waiting not counting the cost but keeping our eyes on Him, ready for next time we see Him move.

Yet every little moment, no matter how incredible it may seem, is a foreshadow of that great day that is to come – the day when Jesus returns and everything is made new.  We want to be ready to meet Him, to catch the wave.  How do we do it?

Jesus taught a surprising amount on this.  The chapter I want to focus on is Matthew 25.  True to form, Jesus teaches in two profound stories.

First, he speaks of 10 bridesmaids waiting at night for the bridegroom to come with their lamps at the ready.  In Jewish wedding the bridegroom would come to the bride’s house at night for the ceremony to take place then take everyone back to his home for celebrations.  These bridesmaids are waiting and they need their lamps shining.  5 are wise and have taken extra oil, 5 are foolish and haven’t.

When the bridegroom finally comes, the foolish bridesmaids have to go and buy oil.  By the time they return the bridegroom and the wise bridesmaids have entered the wedding feast and the door is closed.  When they bang on the door, the foolish bridesmaids are told by the bridegroom, “Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.”

A strange response don’t you think?  I do not know you.  He doesn’t mention whether their lamps are lit or not, whether they have done good things or not.  The one qualification for entering the party, for coming into the wedding celebration, is whether the bridegroom knows them.

If you want to be ready for Jesus when he comes, there is really only one question that matters – do you know Him?  Or, more importantly, does He know you?

The qualification for being ready for Jesus is relationship.  Those wise bridesmaids were ready when he came.  Even in the dark, when he came suddenly like ‘a thief in the night’, they knew him for who he was.  How? Because their lamps were burning.

http://www.worldwideflood.com/ark/technology/oil_lamp_lit_01.jpgTheir lamps would have needed constant topping up with oil.  They would have given off a light that may not have expelled all the darkness, but gave them enough to be seen and to recognise the bridegroom when he came.

Oil in Scripture is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  We are called to be those who keep our light shining.  It may often feel like our little life, our little light, is not enough to stop the darkness that surrounds us.  That is not our job.  Our job is be ready.  To be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.  To take time every day to be with Him, to pray and worship, to enjoy the Spirit, to let Him fill us up.  Then we will be ready and able to recognise Jesus when he comes.  It is Jesus who will take us out of the darkness and into His celebration.  In the meantime, our light may be enough to let others know that a bridegroom is coming, no matter how unlikely it may seem.

I hope you hear in this the enormous encouragement I hear.  When Jesus comes He isn’t that concerned about whether I have achieved great things, changed the world or expelled the darkness.  He wants to see my face and for me to see His.  Is there oil in my lamp?  Am I in relationship with Him?  Will He know me when He comes?

Today take encouragement from this.  Put down your striving and make time to simply be with God.  This is the main purpose of chronos, the main work we do is to ‘tarry’ with the Lord – to simply be with Him.  Next post we’ll look at what Jesus expects from our abilities and talents…

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Keeping Time with Jesus: Chronos, Kairos and the Second Coming – Part 4

http://theworldofmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/world-of-more-time.jpegWhat happens when Jesus comes back?

First, there will be a judgement. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 or Revelation 20:11-15.

The Revelation passage gives an image I find incredibly valuable.  Here John speaks of Jesus on his throne with many books that record the entirety of our lives.  We will be judged on what is in our book – every thought, action and word.  Yet he has another book: the Book of Life.  Anyone who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour has their name written in this book.  Anyone with their name in this book will pass through into life with God, anyone without will go into ‘the second death, the lake of fire’ (v14).

Jesus used similar images of separating sheep and goats or wheat and weeds.  There will be a judgement and those who know Jesus will be with Him forever in life, those who do not will pass into Hell.

Now, a brief word is needed here.  In our modern enlightened age we hate talking about judgement, heaven and hell. It makes us uncomfortable.  Firstly, it should.  Even God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell.  If we share even an iota of His compassion then we shouldn’t find it an easy concept!

But we often wonder whether a loving and just God is compatible with the notion of hell.  Here’s the thing.  Sin is not a problem that can be controlled, it has to be removed permanently – destroyed.  Just look at how peacekeeping missions exacerbate terrorism or corporeal punishment accentuates criminality and you get a sense of how sin cannot be controlled.  More than that, justice requires that misdeeds are punished – our own consciences reflect that truth.

God is fully just and has acted to fully deal with sin.  Yet because he is also fully loving He came as Jesus, took all our sin on Himself, and died in our place.  Jesus took our punishment so that we don’t have to.  Moreover, because God made us for genuine love, He gave us free will – forced love is not love.  We have a choice: we can accept the free gift of what Jesus has done for us and so live in relationship with Him, or we can not.  Hell is God’s honouring the choice we make in this life in the next.  As is heaven.  And here it gets good….

http://secondcomingherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/rapture.jpgSecond, when Jesus comes there will be a new heaven and a new earthRevelation 21.

People often talk about ‘going to heaven’.  It is far more like heaven comes to us.  ‘Heaven’, as understood in the Bible, is the spiritual realm where God lives.  It interacts with the natural world even though we can’t see it.  It’s like there is a veil between us and heaven.

Yet John describes in Revelation how the New Jerusalem (an image of heaven) will come down and be on the earth.  There will be no need for Sun or stars because God himself will be our light.  In other words, when Jesus returns, all creation – heaven and earth – will be made new.  All the mess, rubbish, decay and sin will be removed and there will  be a new unity between spiritual and natural – between heaven and earth.  We will live with God face to face.

This is no airy fairy playing harps on clouds.  This will be a creation like the original but perfect, not marred.  We’ll continue with creativity, exploration, discovery, relationship and above all worship and unity with God.  This will be life in all it’s fullness, this will be the ultimate kairos moment. 

This is the hope that stirred the early Church even in the midst of persecution.  It is the hope Jesus proclaimed and called us to stand on.  It is the hope we need to keep our eyes fixed on every moment.

Just as we get the odd day of sunshine before the summer really kicks in, the kairos moments we experience now are like foreshadows of that great day that is to come.  We don’t know when, but we know it will.  We work and wait, paddling to where the wave should break, ready for when it comes.

But how do we get ready?  That is the question for next time, but for now go and read Revelation 21.  Remind yourself of the hope we have.  Check out what I’ve been saying.  Ask me questions and study for yourself.  There is nothing more important to understand.

Keeping Time with Jesus: Chronos, Kairos and the Second Coming – Part 3

http://theworldofmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/world-of-more-time.jpegI don’t know if you realize it, but the central hope of the early church, a hope they could not stop going on about, one that saturates the New Testament and shaped the entirety of their lives, is one we hardly ever pay more than lip-service to in the contemporary church.

I mentioned last post a wave that will never stop flowing, a kairos moment to end all chronos.  This hope is that wave, that moment.

This hope is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

When was the last time you heard a sermon on the second coming?  When was the last time you read a book, studied, thought about, or had a conversation over a glass of wine concerning the second coming?

Every gospel account records Jesus’ promise that he will come again.  Luke records in the book of Acts how the church began with promise that Jesus would return just as the disciples had seen him go up into heaven.  This hope riddles the sermons of early church, the letters of the apostles.  It is the central hope demonstrated in the physical symbol of communion – the universal act of worship of the whole church throughout time.

Often we focus on the cross and resurrection of Jesus (and these are a worthy focus!) but they lose all meaning when we ignore the promise of the second coming of Jesus.

If every kairos moment we’ve talked about so far is a moment where heaven invades earth, where God moves and chronos pauses – how much more significant will it be when Jesus returns for good?

So what is the second coming?  What will it look like, what will happen? 

When we talk about something as huge as this there is inevitably a large amount that remains mystery.  Over this there are different views held by people who equally desire to respect and learn from Scripture.  But there is still much that we can know clearly from the Bible, and that most orthodox Christians agree on.

  1. Jesus is coming back.  When he comes everyone will see Him and He’ll come bodily, not just as a spiritual force or a good principle.  Look at Acts 1:11 or 1 Thess 4:16.
  2. His coming will be sudden.  We won’t know when it happens.  Jesus himself described it as ‘coming like a thief in the night’…not because he is a thief, but because he will come just as unexpectedly.  Matthew 24:44.
  3. All Christians should eagerly long for Christ’s return.  Paul describes the Christian life as training to live sober, upright and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-23).  We’re to keep faithful in the chronos as we await this ultimate kairos – our blessed hope.

What happens when Jesus comes back?

http://www.waynegrudem.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/bible-doctrine1.jpgWe know two things for sure.  Both are huge topics that I urge you to study if you never have.  Something like Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine is a great, user-friendly place to start and one that has inspired this post.

First, there will be a judgement, and then there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth.  These are incredible truths that needs a bit more looking into.  We’ll continue with a post tomorrow – keep your eyes peeled!

Keeping Time with Jesus: Chronos, Kairos and the Second Coming – Part 2

http://theworldofmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/world-of-more-time.jpegChronos and kairos.  Tick tock and catching the wave.  If you missed the last post have a look now.  If you read it, then think again about your answers to the last questions:  have you ever had a kairos moment?  Was the working and waiting worth it?

I said we’d have a look at the point of understanding chronos and kairos today.  The first point is this: understanding kairos let’s us maintain hope in the chronos.

It isn’t always easy being a Christian.  Sometimes it can feel like we are doing all the right things but not seeing the results we expect.  We hear from others and read in scripture the promises of what God wants to do through us, how He loves and wants to move in the world to free, heal and redeem, how He has already filled us with the power of His Spirit and how we can expect to see all of this happen if we simply step out.  Then we finally pluck up the courage, step out, and….nothing…or worse….we’re misunderstood, demeaned, rejected, kicked out…we find trouble.

What’s going on?

If you resonate with that sentiment, whatever it may look like for you, then take heart.  You’re not forgotten, failing, getting it wrong, or unlucky.  You’re living the normal Christian life, but….you may have taken your eyes off the wave.

As Christians we’re called to live in the chronos with out eyes on the kairos.  We’re called to work and to wait, it is the shape of our lives, but with eyes fixed on the extraordinary intervention of God – His presence in the midst of us.  When we understand how Jesus tells time we can work and wait without stopping hoping.

Danielle tells how part of her role is to visit massage parlours in her local town.  These are not innocent places, more goes on here than massage, but they visit taking cakes simply wanting to show God’s love and build relationship.  She described knocking on the door of one parlour and being greeted by the manageress.  She only just managed to introduce herself when she was told, ‘We don’t want you here’ and the door was slammed in her face.  She managed to blurt out ‘See you next week!’ as the door closed.

Next week she visited and the same happened again: ‘We don’t want you here!’…slam!  The next week was the same, and the next, and the next.  Six times she visited, six times she was told to leave, six times the door slammed shut….

The seventh week she went again, cakes in hand, and knocked on the door.  This time the door opened wide, the manageress cried out ‘Thank God you’re here!’ and led her straight away into the back room.  A young girl was there obviously distressed.  The manageress told the girl to say to Danielle exactly what she’d just said to her.  The girl cried out, ‘I need forgiveness, I need to be healed, I need to be free!’  Danielle introduced her to Jesus and right then and there she gave her life to him.

Danielle caught the wave.  6 weeks of working and waiting.  6 weeks of rejection, slammed doors, seeming pointlessness, obstruction, no way through.  6 weeks of chronos.  The one moment of kairos.  She couldn’t predict it or make it happen.  She didn’t do it – only God could.  All she did was kept on paddling to where the wave must break and waiting, ready to catch whatever wave came passed.

When that wave broke, do you think she counted up the weeks before to work out whether it was worth trying again?  No way.  She just experienced kairos, God moving and breaking in, a young girl’s ilfe being changed, her self-worth returned, a young girl discovering that she’s not a failure or messed up, but is loved and valued by the One who made everything.  Danielle went straight back out hunting waves.

God is always faithful.  He is always moving.  The wave is going to break.  The biggest danger we have is that we become the surfer who gave up and went home.  The wave may not always be exactly what we expected.  We don’t control it, we don’t make it happen, we simply put ourselves in its path, wait and get ready to surf.  If you are working and waiting based on what you’ve heard God say and promises he’s made, then be encouraged – he is always faithful, his timing is impeccable…but he won’t ask our permission.  Let’s not get discouraged but encourage one another to keep our eyes on him, remembering what he has already done, and trusting for what he has promised is to come.

This is how we live in present moment.  It’s a reflection of another time to come, a kairos moment to not only invade but to end all chronos, a wave that will not stop flowing.  This is what we’ll talk about next post.  For now, be encouraged, God is always moving.

Keeping Time with Jesus: Chronos, Kairos, and the Second Coming – Part 1

What time is it? http://theworldofmore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/world-of-more-time.jpeg

Everything is different when you become a Christian.  Following Jesus isn’t about a system of beliefs that help us negotiate the complexities of life with a bit more peace of mind.  Following Jesus is about learning to live in a brand new world, to see things differently.  If God really has come in human form, entered not simply ‘nature’ but ‘creation’, died on the cross and rose again opening the way for life free from sin, filled with the divine Spirit, life that will not end…then this is not the world we were told it was.

Discipleship, learning to follow Jesus, is learning to see this new world, or rather, theworld as it really is.  One of the huge differences is how we view time.

Just a few weeks ago I heard an incredible talk by a Canadian Salvation Army Officer called Danielle Strickland.  She gave the best explanation of time as understood in scripture that I have ever heard.  I’m going to shamelessly relay that now…

There are two words for time in the Bible: chronos and kairos.

Chronos is the tick tock, tick tock, continuous passage of seconds, minutes and hours.  It’s time measured by watches. Drifting steadily by.

Kairos is the NOW moment.  The moment when time stands still, when chronos stops, when we stop counting and simple are in that moment, right now.

If you know Jesus, have you ever had an encounter with God, maybe in worship or prayer, maybe a crisis situation, where it has seemed like time stopped still?  That is kairos.  Danielle describes being a rebellious teenager and finding herself in juvenile prison.  There in her jail cell she simply states that ‘Jesus showed up’.  People ask her the details of exactly how, what happened, how long it lasts.  Those are foolish questions for someone who has experienced anything similar.  He came, time stood still, and she was changed from that moment on.  Her life transformed.  That is kairos.

http://www.capelodge.com.au/files/Surfing.jpgShe put it another way.  She describes watching her friend surfing.  90% of surfing is working and waiting.  It’s paddling against the current to the place where waves will break and then simply waiting, waiting for the wave.  After watching her friend working and waiting for 6 hours and catching only 2 waves she asked him how on earth it couldbe worth it.  He simply replied, ‘You’ve never caught a wave!’  Catching a wave is the kairos moment.  The quantity of chronos it takes doesn’t matter, in fact in that moment chronos itself, the working and waiting, don’t matter – you caught a wave, time stopped, the extraordinary invaded the ordinary – kairos came.

Jesus lives in kairos.  It’s his natural time.  He is heaven invading earth – the eternal come to stand in the temporal – the kairos living and breathing within chronos.  Jesus’s message was that ‘now’ the kingdom has come, ‘today’ is the day of salvation, ‘now’ is the time to repent – to change your mind and see the way the world really is.  When he enters the disciple’s boat after they have struggled against the wind all night, they ‘immediately’ reach the other side.  In Mark’s gospel every next move of Jesus is ‘now’ or ‘immediately’.

What’s the point of all this?  We’ll get more into that next post, for now ask yourself this question:

Have you ever experienced a kairos moment, an encounter with God, a time He entered the ordinary with His extraordinary presence?  Maybe it was a moment in worship, hearing His voice, meeting Him for the first time, seeing someone healed or receiving healing, an answered prayer or overwhelming joy or peace?  

Now answer me this, did you have to wait for it, to work for it?  Was it worth it, would you wait and work again for that moment?

Christians work and wait because we know the wave is coming.  We’ve caught one before and we’re not going to miss the next…no matter how big it is or how long in coming…