The kairos moment.

by K.W. Leslie, 12 August
KAIROS MOMENT 'kaɪ.rɑs 'moʊ.mənt noun. Propitious time for decision or action.

Every so often there’s a window of time when something profound happens.

You make a life-changing decision. You don’t always realize it’s life-changing at the time; sometimes it occurs to you much later. But sometimes you’re in the moment and recognize this is a major turning point: You pick a university. Pick a job. Pick a spouse. Choose to follow Jesus. Choose to have kids. All sorts of things.

Might’ve been a split-second decision. Might’ve been a long, well-thought-out decision. Or you might’ve agonized over it for weeks, racked with indecision; maybe procrastinating the actual decision; maybe giving up and leaving it in the hands of others. (Or worse, coin flips. Or even worse, your horoscope.) In any event you stopped weighing your options and chose one of ’em.

For Christians, whenever we wanna Christianize the decision-making process—whenever we wanna make it sound like God’s heavily involved, even when he’s not—Christians tend to call this “a kairos moment.”

Yeah, it’s redundant. Καιρός/kerós is ancient Greek for “moment.” Sometimes it’s translated “an opportune moment,” because people are reading that whole kairos-moment mindset back into the bible. But do a word study on it sometime and you’ll find most instances of kerós really just describe ordinary moments. Jesus walking past wheat. Mt 12.1 Jesus noticing a fig tree’s not ready for figs. Mk 11.13 People believing a message for a while. Lk 8.13 Servants getting their groceries. Lk 12.42 Sometimes kerós isn’t even a moment; it’s just a general time-period. Ac 12.1, 19.13, Ro 8.18, 11.5, 13.11, 1Co 7.5, 2Co 8.14

And in one instance, observing those special kerós times gets rebuked:

Galatians 4.9-11 KJV

9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Still, you’ll find most people don’t understand how words have multiple definitions. Or even care. “No, it always means opportune moment.”

Meh. Greeks today use kerós to talk about weather. Πώς είναι o καιρός;/Pos eine o kerós? “How’s the weather?” Yep, kéros could mean an entire season. A long season.

Basically the ancients used it to refer to time. And just as English-speakers sometimes use “time” to refer to a critical or important time, like “Time’s up” or “It’s time” or “You’re running out of time,” sometimes kerós referred to a critical time. Sometimes not so critical. Remember, the ancients didn’t have our timekeeping methods. No coordinated universal time, no time servers, no phones connected to those servers which tell us—down to the second—what time it is. For the ancients, sunrise to noon was six hours… even though the summer sun rose seven of our hours before noon, and the winter sun rose five hours before. Mighty flexible hours. Our hours? We use atomic clocks to measure ’em to the nanosecond.

Hence our culture is far more fast-paced than the ancients. The times we consider opportune are way shorter. Blink and they’re gone. Hence our attitude about every kairos moment: You don’t wanna miss it!

Again, meh.

Our pace versus God’s pace.

Yes, sometimes opportunities are short and fleeting. They don’t come by again, not for years; sometimes not ever. You wanna take advantage when you can. But the thing about time in the scriptures is it’s frequently not fleeting at all.

Fr’instance Jesus’s statement about how the time has come to repent and trust the good news of God’s kingdom. Yep, he used the word kerós. Yep, I’ll quote it; why not.

Mark 1.15 KJV
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Is this kerós Jesus declared, in any way fleeting? Thankfully no.

Not that we should delay in repenting and trusting the gospel! But let’s say a woman hears the gospel, realizes this is a major and weighty decision, and puts off her final decision till tomorrow. (And, God willing, a bus doesn’t fall on her in the meanwhile.) Will his kingdom still be around for her to still enter? Duh; of course.

You remember Jesus hasn’t returned yet, and that’s when he inaugurates the kingdom of God he declared in the scriptures. How long has our opportune time to repent and believe been going? Well let’s assume Jesus made his “Repent ye” statement when he was age 30; so the year 23 CE. So this “kairos moment” has been ongoing for 1,998 years now. Seems God’s stretching it out so he can get everyone he can. 2Pe 3.9

Opportunities come in all shapes, sizes, and lengths. Don’t miss the short ones. Or the long ones.