GOD AS CENTER, pt.1 "BUSY HERE AND THERE!"
Updated: May 30, 2020
We’ve all heard that saying, Time Waits for No Man!
This axiom can be understood in a number ways. One is that it means that time is relentless. Time in its rush forward doesn’t care if you’re not keeping up.Time is unyielding, unforgiving, uncompromising… It is inflexible and intransigent… AS SUCH, IT IS A TYRANT!
The Ancient Greeks knew that, so in their complex mythology they identified time as the god Chronos (from this word we get words such as “chronology”). Chronos was the unaging king of the Titans, and feared by all. He was viewed as a destructive, all-devouring force. He could not be diverted, He could not be defeated, He could not be resisted, He was unstoppable.
And so it is for people today… man still serves the god Chronos!
Instead of using time as an advantage, tenacious Chronos takes advantage of us. We become slaves of the clock - with his pointy hands and his ticking heart. And the sound of the ticking cannot be ignored, cannot be dismissed, refuses to be muted.
The Greeks built into their cosmology that Chronos must be defeated. And he was! By his own son Zeus, in the epic Titan wars. The good news for the ancient Greeks is that they figured out how to defeat Chronos. The bad news for us today - we’re not the ancient Greeks!
For a moment, let’s turn from Greek mythology to Hebrew history. There is an interesting story in First Kings 20 where Ben Hadad and the Syrians have invaded Israel, but they are defeated by King Ahab, not once but twice, and both because of the Lord’s intervention. After the second victory, Ben Hadad is captured and brought before Ahab, who treats him as a brother and sets him free.
This angers God, and a prophet is sent to rebuke the king. The prophet devises an ingenious way to confront the king (vss. 38-40) and his statement in vs.40 has relevance even to this day: “While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone…” (The CEV has it, “I got busy doing other things…” and The Message paraphrases it, “I got busy doing one thing after another…”
Do we see ourselves in that? Are we not having to ask ourselves periodically, “What have I missed out on by being too busy?” Our days are consumed with rushing to and fro, hither and yon, back and forth, and In and out. Too often we find ourselves out of breath, out of sorts and sadly, out of time!
As Christians, we must come to see that hurry is the enemy of the spiritual life and, as Hennie Bosman said, must be “ruthlessly eliminate in our lives!”
In our modern world (lightyears from Mt. Olympus) the tempo of our lives continues to increase, and we’re not slowing down! Ghandi once said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
As a result, time is more often an adversary than a friend! Time should be our ally, but too often instead it is our enemy. We should master time, rather than it becoming our master. We wish to harness time, but we just end up being harassed by it! And then we wonder why we’re left dazed, discouraged and defeated
Tim Timmons wrote in his book, Maximum Living in a Pressure-Cooker world:
Our modern world is an exhilarating place to live. We know more, we can do more, and we have more that any other society in the history of mankind. Just plug it in, push the button, and you have instant – everything! But along with having everything in an instant, we only seem to have it for an instant. Everything is happening at such a breathless pace! The world is passing us by so fast that it becomes nearly impossible for a person to get his/her head together long enough to consider: Why am I? Who am I? Where am I going? No one – not even the most brilliant scientist alive today – really knows where science is taking us. We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine cab and there many be demons at the switches. Most of society is in the caboose looking backward. Everything is out of control. It’s like having your feet firmly planted in midair!”
Make no mistake, society is going to pay the price for our submission to the god Chronos.
Someone put it this way:
THIS IS THE AGE OF THE HALF-READ PAGE;
AND THE QUICK HASH, AND THE MAD DASH.
THE BRIGHT NIGHT WITH THE NERVES TIGHT.
THE PLANE HOP WITH THE BRIEF STOP.
THE LAMP TAN IN A SHORT SPAN.
THE BIG SHOT IN A GOOD SPOT.
AND THE BRAIN STRAIN, THE HEART PAIN,
AND THE CATNAPS TILL THE SPRING SNAPS—
AND THE FUN’S DONE
Old Chronos is a tyrant indeed
Speaking of tyrants, I am reminded of that classic little book, The Tyranny of the Urgent, by Charles Hummel. He noted that “We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important.” And that “The greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”
But things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. Furthermore, we need to learn that the urgent and the important are not always the same thing! Sometimes we spend too much time on what seems urgent and not enough time on what is certainly important
The Biblical answer to the tyranny of Chronos is stated by the Apostle Paul in
His most intriguing statement on Time Management in Bible…”See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
What does Paul mean by redeeming the time? The word he chooses is significant, it is exagorazo – from the preposition ek (out of) and the verb: agorazo, which meant “to purchase.” (For instance, the Agora in a Greek city was the marketplace).
Exagorazo appears four times in the New Testament, here in Ephesians 5:16 and the related statement in Colossians 4:5. The other two are references are in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law,” and again in Galatians 4:5 “He might redeem those who were under the Law.”
The two references in Galatians help, because they show that when you redeem someone from slavery, as Christ redeemed us, you are purchasing them out of (exagarazo) their slavery. You are paying the price to take them out of a bad situation! A synonym would be the word “Ransom.” (Remember the old hymn He Ransomed Me.)
Back to Ephesians 5:16, because there the reference to redeeming is applied to time and not people. So the next important word is “time,” but what word did Paul use? Paul uses word kairos AND NOT chronos! This is incredibly important! Both words mean time, but not the same type of time.
And so now we can back to Greek mythology to understand the difference. Like Chronos, Kairos was also a god! In Greek mythology, Caerus (Καιρός) was the personification of opportunity, luck and favorable moments. The ancient Greeks saw Kairos as the god of the right moment, often the "fleeting moment," or of "a favorable opportunity." Such a moment must be grasped otherwise the moment is gone and cannot be re-captured.
Can you appreciate the difference? Kairos isn’t about minutes, seconds, and measurement of time. Paul knew that Kairos time carries with it the idea of the right time, the most opportune time, and NOT just Chronos time. Let me illustrate. If I say “How much time do I have before lunch?” that would be Chronos time. But if I say, “Is it time to have lunch?” that is Kairos time.
Another way to distinguish the difference is to understand that Chronos is a quantity of time, and Kairos is the quality of time.
So, to “Redeem the time,” to “exagarazo the Kairos”, you are purchasing out of “slavery” and bad use, the fleeting opportunities with which you’ve been presented. In other words, you seize the moment! You take advantage of the fleeting opportunities! As the NASB renders it, “make the most of every opportunity”, and the NIV has it, “make the most of your time”
And why? Paul said because the “days are evil!” The fact is, we don’t have time to waste…
Chronos is gobbling up time and people! We think of our time in a Chronos mindset. We have 24 hours a day, 40 plus hour workweek, list of things to do by such time and such a time. But we need to have a Kairos mindset. You only have a brief opportunity to influence your kids, visit a friend in pain, spend meaningful moments with your spouse.
A Kairos mindset understands that some moments are more valuable than others. Remember, Chronos doesn’t care! For him, all moments are just minutes! But for Christians, five minutes sharing gospel with a friend are more valuable than five minutes you spend scrolling through FaceBook!
Don’t let your obsession with Chronos choke out your attention to Kairos!
Redeeming the time will always mean making the right choices.
copyright © Joe LoMusio 2019