Thursday, December 14, 2023

Keeping Time with Expectation

Martin Luther once said that Jesus is the “center and circumference of the Bible.”

During Advent we often quote Galatians 4:4 (ESV) which says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son. . .” but Romans 5:6 (NLT) gives a similar message, “We were weak and could not help ourselves. Then Christ came at the right time and gave His life for all sinners.”

In the Galatians 4 passage, the Greek word for time is Chronos. In the Romans 5 passage, the whole phrase “the right time” is translated from the Greek word, Kairos. In English, the meanings of these two verses appear to be the same, but in the Greek, they are drastically different.

Madeline L’Engle wrote about Chronos and Kairos time in many of her works, especially in her middle grade science fiction, A Wrinkle in Time. She has a reverent and inspiring way of weaving together the practical and the fantastical in order to teach the reader a little about the mysteries of time and space.

Professor and writer, Susan VanZanten describes the two ideas of time this way:
“The ancient Greeks had two words for this: chronos and kairos. Chronos refers to what I have been calling clock time, an objective duration of physical movement, ordinary time measurable by a calendar in which one day is just like any other. Kairos, in contrast, is subjective and qualitative; it refers to the special place an event has in the flow of time, a moment when something happens that can only occur at that time. Christians sometimes refer to Kairos as ‘God’s time,’ a unique window of opportunity in which certain actions can take place. In the New Testament kairos refers to a specific, God-ordained time sometimes called the ‘right time’ or ‘appointed season.’ The incarnation, the turning of water into wine at Cana, the crucifixion, and the resurrection are all understood as kairos moments.”
As we live, here, in Chronos time, we are living between the two Advents. Jesus came to earth as a baby more than 2000 years ago. And some time in the future, He will come again. That unknown moment will certainly be a Kairos event—shocking the very foundation of what we know and understand about this temporal planet we call home.

While we are here, observing Advent with annual expectation, what is it we are yearning for?

The context of Romans 5:6 gives us a clue. God sent Jesus to Earth to repair that which was broken when sin entered the Garden so many years before. Before the first bite of forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve had perfect communion with God, perfect peace, and perfect rest in God’s glory. They had no need that God hadn’t already supplied.

But then a rip tore through humanity and we became enemies of God. The gospel message is that Jesus, Mighty God, is able to justify us—wiping away our record of sin, and restoring that which was broken. In Romans 5:1-2, Paul tells us three benefits to this justification:
1.    Peace with God (no more enemy status)
2.    Access to grace (a repaired relationship with God)
3.    Hope in God’s glory (both present and future).

In 2009 I named this blog, Lineage of Expectation. So much of Advent is about hope, and waiting, and yearning. For thousands of years, the people of God were waiting for a Messiah to deliver them. And now, we are waiting again.

The word hope is defined by Merriam Webster as “cherishing a desire with anticipation.” Hope is more than wishing for something to come true. There is a measure of confidence in hope. Hope is steadfast and long-suffering. And it is active. Because the same external things we are striving for in Jesus’ second coming, Jesus has already promised are ours through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are living in an “already, not yet” kind of time with the miraculous benefits of God’s presence.

In the fullness of time
(chronos): When God had lined up all the ancestors, prophetic messages, battles, warriors, worshipers, wanderers, waiters to perfectly reveal the Messiah.

At the right time (Kairos): That moment when God tore down our twisted expectations of what a Messiah would look like and amazingly entered humanity as an infant King ready to lead the way through service, love, sacrifice, and mercy.

We look back at the first Advent with such clarity. But another Kairos moment is coming. May we continue to be a lineage of expectation.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.