Mark Fairweather Tall
Honouring God with our time
September has well and truly come (and nearly gone) bringing with it a definite feeling of a new season. Dawn is breaking later and darkness falling ealier in the evening. There has been an autumnal chill in the air for a few days and we are in the midst of what has been described as the most intense September storm in 30 years. For me (as for many others) September also brings with it an increase in the pace of life. Evening meetings - blessedly few and far between in the latter part of July and throughout August – are back with a vengeance. Regular church activities have all started again, new courses have begun and others are being prepared, not to mention the fact that Christmas is fast approaching bringing with it the necessity for plentiful planning.
The result of this was that last week I felt under quite a lot of time pressure, wondering how I was going to get all that I was committed to done. I like to write a list of the things that I need to do – it helps me be organised and remember the things that I am supposed to be doing. To an extent it also enables me to prioritise as I keep checking what needs to be done by when. However, by Thursday I was aware of the need to stop and take stock and ask questions of myself: does my list reflect what my priorities should be? Is there a danger that what seems urgent is taking precedence over what is important? Most importantly, am I honouring God with the use of my time?
In Greek there are two words used for ‘time’. One is ‘chronos’ and the other is ‘kairos’. ‘Chronos’ refers to the sequential events of time – Monday follows Sunday, after September will come October and so on. ‘Kairos’ refers to those particularly significant moments that punctuate the ‘chronos’. For example, a Biblical example of the word ‘kairos’ is in Mark 1:15, “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The arrival of Jesus was a significant moment in the history of the world – it was more than a chronological event – it was a special moment.
We are shaped by the kairos moments in our lives. Have you ever sat down and done one of those exercises where you are encouraged to draw a straight line to represent your life? And along that line you are to mark significant things that have happened in your life. When I did it the ‘kairos’ moments included getting exam results, leaving home and going to university, being baptised, beginning pastoral ministry, getting married, the birth of my daughter and so on and so on. It is in looking at these ‘kairos’ moments that we recognise what our priorities are. For me, it runs something like this: 1) being in relationship with God and following him; 2) being a husband and father; 3) my responsibility as minister at Norwich Central Baptist Church.
It is fair to say that the largest proportion of my time is involved with (3) and that is strongly reflected in my list of things to do. This is right and natural as I am employed full time by the church. However, I do recognise that I have other priorities that need to be given adequate time. I should not neglect either investing in my personal relationship with God or the joys of being a husband and father. Realistically, there will be weeks when church work means it is hard to spend as much time with the family as I would like. However, over a month or two, the balance needs to be healthy if I am to be honouring God with my time. I can only do this as I keep what is most important in focus – as I remember my ‘kairos’ moments and am not overtaken by ‘chronos’.
I wonder how often in our lives ‘chronos’ drives our time and our thinking rather than the ‘kairos’ moments. Let me give you some examples of what this might look like...
1) Going to church – it can simply be something we do at a certain time, Sunday by Sunday; one more activity to fit in alongside all the others that we do week by week. Going to church can be simply about singing some songs and hymns, listening to a sermon, chatting to people we like and so on and so on. That’s what Sunday might look like if ‘chronos’ is driving us. However, going to church should be more than that. It should be a ‘kairos’ moment. Week by week we should go to church with joy because we know that as we worship corporately we have an opportunity to meet with our God. We should come with expectation that our worship will transform us to become more like Christ as we meet with Him. Each Sunday has the potential to be a ‘kairos’ moment. Is that how we approach Sunday worship?
2) Following God – isn’t simply about Sunday. Our worship is about the way that we live throughout the week. It is so easy to be caught up in the ‘chronos’ that we don’t look for God in our day to day living. It is amazing to know that God can break into our lives at any time; He can speak to us through other people, a walk in the countryside, whilst reading a book or even watching TV. The question is, “are we looking for a ‘kairos’ moment?”
3) Serving God – can be about rotas and fulfilling the commitments that we have. It is easy for our service to become jaded and a burden on our lives. Church responsibilities fill our time when there are other things we could be or even would rather be doing. When ‘chronos’ is precious to us we may forget ‘kairos’. To be able to serve God is a tremendous privilege. Yes, there may by sacrifices to make but it is the least we can do in response to Jesus, the one who sacrificed everything for us. We should not underestimate how blessed we are that God uses we who are imperfect and flawed to further His kingdom. Serving Him should be precious to us – a ‘kairos’ moment.
Well, there is much more that could be written but time (chronos!) does not allow. The question for us to keep reflecting on is whether our use of time honours God? I believe a key to this is valuing ‘kairos’ above ‘chronos’ and seeking those special moments with God that encourage, inspire and challenge us day by day.