Monday, January 16, 2012

Kairos: Sacred Time, part 2


Galatians 6.10: Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

We might consider this verse an axiom, an unquestionable truth, or a rule of life.  What makes it different than other rules of life?  Think about the Golden Rule.  Various forms of the Golden Rule are found in many religions throughout time.

Other than Christ, Confucius spoke the most famous Golden Rule.  A World Religions professor at a secular university quoted Confucius: “Do not do to others what you would not desire yourself.”[1]  He then compared it to Christ’s Golden Rule and claimed that Confucius said it first.  He was immediately corrected.  A missionary’s daughter said, “It’s completely different.  Christ said ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’[2]  Christ’s command was active, not inactive.”  The professor had no response.

Another way of saying this is that the Golden Rule of Confucius is a negative form.  The Golden Rule of Christ is a positive form.  Consequently, we can hide away as a spiritual guru, no contact with people, and still fulfill the Confucian Golden Rule.  We can’t do that with Christ, His Golden Rule calls us to engage!

Paul adds to the Golden Rule.  Like Christ, Paul is calling us to do good.  Like Christ, this is a positive form, a call to engage.  As we have opportunity . . . the verb have is active.  This doesn’t mean when the opportunity presents itself.  This means to look for opportunity.

The word opportunity is the Greek word kairos.  This is the same word used in Galatians 6.9 for the proper time or season (KJV).  There it brings out the God’s divine plan for time.  Here it shows us God’s divine opportunities within time.

Henri Nouwen explains, “Kairos, not chronos, kairos, the other Greek word for time, means opportunity to change your heart.  There are as many opportunities to change your heart as there are events that you’re part of.  Everything is an opportunity to change your heart – a friend to visit, the mother who comes to visit, the museum, whatever, that’s life.  Looked upon from below, it’s chronos; I have to survive, and I have to fight my way through it.  Looked at from above, it is kairos; it’s the opportunity to change your heart in everything you do.”[3]

As we have opportunity means we actively look for divine or sacred moments – eternal moments in time.  We aren't just waiting for a divine season, but also actively looking for the sacred in the day-to-day grind.

Paul adds, let us do good to all people.  The word do is almost always translated work.  We must labor to do good, or strive to do good, until we make a habit of doing good.  We do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of believers or household of faith (KJV).  Especially means most of all.  For believers, the family of God is the best place to start.

This is a call to help those in need.  Most of all, this is call to help the household or family of God.  Is this strong language used to help us prioritize our efforts?  “Blood is thicker than water” and we definitely look out for our family.  However, Paul is saying here that this is your new family!  How high is our Church family on our priority list?

Jesus gives us the Golden Rule.  Paul adds the sacredness of every moment and the bond of Church family.  How are we using our time to treat our Church family?  How are we spending our time?  Are we taking advantage of every opportunity we have with each other?  How sacred is your time?




                  [1] S. A. Nigosian, “Taoism and Confucianism,” in World Faiths (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 199.
                  [2] Luke 6.31, New International Version (see also Matthew 7.12)
                  [3] Henri J. M. Nowen and Philip Roderick, Beloved: Henri Nouwen in Conversation with Philip Roderick (Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans, 2007), 38.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is great timing for me;). During the Christmas season I was reading Col. and was really struck with the 4:12 - 13 "always remembering you earnestly in his prayers" the Jerusalem Bible says "never stops battling for you, praying that you will never lapse but always hold perfectly and securely to the will of God." This was what Epaphras was doing for his Church Family. Your right, our role is very active. And I wonder if vs 2 - 6 is also a key in our "doing to others"
    2 Be persevering in your prayers and be thankful as you stay awake to pray.
    3 Pray for us especially, asking God to throw open a door for us to announce the message and proclaim the mystery of Christ, for the sake of which I am in chains;
    4 pray that I may proclaim it as clearly as I ought.
    5 Act wisely with outsiders, making the best of the present time.
    6 Always talk pleasantly and with a flavour of wit but be sensitive to the kind of answer each one requires.
    In this we sanctify our day. Lora

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