Do you recall how you were haunted by time as a child? Someone always seemed to be saying, “It’s time to go to bed,” or, “It’s time to get up.” And for some strange reason, we never wanted to do either at the moment.
Every modern contrivance seems to conspire to make us conscious of time. We seem to live and move and have our being in the presence of clocks and calendars. Time dogs us like a demon from childhood to death.
How often we hear our children say of time, “We have nothing to do.” And as adults we cry, “There’s not enough time.”
It is no mere coincidence the Greeks had two words for time. Our emphasis is chronological; we think of time as something to be measured. This is chronos-time. It is the time that ticks away, one second relentlessly following another. It is empty time. It is a void that has to be filled with something, anything. And they do fill it – some with alcohol, some with drugs and violence; others with more respectable time-fillers. But let it be noted a person can be very busy – and busy doing worthwhile things – and still, deep down, only know time as an empty void to be filled.
But the Greeks had another word for time. It is Kairos-time – time of opportunity and fulfillment. It is full time – a time when things happen to change the course of history.
And so Mark writes “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). The Kairos is fulfilled. The right time, the decisive time, has come. This is the time to act, to believe. It is now, or never.
The time of Jesus is Kairos – and so is a time of opportunity. To embrace the opportunity means salvation, to neglect it is disaster. There is no third course. In rejecting Christ, in failing to seize the opportunity, one courts disaster. By contrast, Christians, discerning the times aright, are the heirs of salvation. They “know the season” (Romans 13:11), “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16), Colossians 4:5); know that “now is the time acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Now is the time to receive the grace of God. Now is the time to enlist in his service. Now is the time to live life to its fullest possibilities. There is a memorable word in Wilder’s play, Our Town, which pictures the common failing to reach the limit of the possibilities of now as life rushes by.
A young woman, dead at a very early age, returns from the cemetery to her birthday part of years ago and can be seen by her parents only as she was. As she leaves them she wonders whether people “ever realize life while they live it, every minute.” She cries out, “Why don’t we look at each other?”
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote that “the obscurest epoch is today.” The hour in which we are now living is the magic hour in the truest sense, for now is the day of salvation. God has given us Kairos-time. We are given the now, to be used for the doing of his will and the hastening of his kingdom. The time is now