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.
She 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…