I came across a term I was unfamiliar with this morning while doing a Google search. That term is “kairos moment,” and I wondered what it meant. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines“kairos” as: “a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action: the opportune and decisive moment.”
GotQuestions.org provides a longer definition on the meaning of the Greek word “kairos”:
The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos was more linear and quantitative, and kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative.
The Bible uses the word kairos and its cognates 86 times in the New Testament (e.g., in Matthew 8:29; Luke 19:44; and Acts 24:25). The word often includes the idea of an opportunity or a suitable time for an action to take place. When we “seize the day,” we are taking advantage of the kairos given to us. Kairos is related to the Greek word kara (“head”). A kairos is a time when things “come to a head,” requiring decisive action.
In Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares, the Lord refers to the coming judgment as a harvest: “At that time [kairos] I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn” (Matthew 13:30). By using kairos here, Jesus emphasizes the fact that Judgment Day is an appointed time, and at that time will occur certain things appropriate for the day.
There was “an appointed time” for John the Baptist to be born (Luke 1:20). The Lord promises to reward His servants at “the proper time” (Luke 12:42). Jesus predicts that Israel will be judged “because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you” (Luke 19:44, emphasis added). Each of these uses of kairos denotes a unique time in which something special was to happen.
The Bible warns that we should take full advantage of the opportunities God gives us. Unbelievers have the responsibility to respond to opportunities to believe the gospel. Jesus’ first recorded sermon was simple: “The time [kairos] has come. . . . The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:8). When the people of Galilee were confronted with Jesus’ life-changing message, God expected them to believe.
Governor Felix was listening to Paul speak, and “as [Paul] reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity [kairos] I will summon you’” (Acts 24:25, ESV). Felix wanted to pick his own opportunity to respond to the gospel, ignoring the opportunity of the present. In so doing, he did respond—he rejected the gospel.
Paul communicated the urgency of the gospel: “I tell you, now is the time [kairos] of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). There is a window of opportunity to accept God’s salvation, and we do not know when that window will close.
The believer must take advantage of opportunities to serve the Lord. “As we have opportunity [kairos], let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). We must be “making the most of every opportunity [kairos], because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). And “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time [kairos] we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). (Quote source here.)
In an article published on November 13, 2014, titled, “KAIROS = God – Time,” by Pr. Michael Jannett, pastor at Advent Lutheran Church, he uses the acronym “SOAP” to describe a kairos moment:
S (Scripture): John 14:2b [Jesus said,] “I am going away to make ready a place for you. 14:3 And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. 14:4 And you know the way where I am going.” 14:5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 14:6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”
O (Observation): Thomas hears that Jesus is changing course again. That is a “kairos” moment for him–a time to listen and pay extra attention to what God (Jesus) is saying. So Thomas chimes in, and wonders how the disciples are to make their way without Jesus?
A (Application): I’m sitting in an airport (as I type), awaiting departure for Detroit, MI, for an ELCA Youth Gathering training event. My flight was delayed a half hour. That was a kairos. A moment that catches my attention.
We all have lots of kairos moments. Sometimes we call it: coincidence, providence, happenstance, chance, aha moments, light bulb moments…I call them Kairos moments.
Kairos is a Greek word that essentially means “God-time.” Every moment that catches my attention is a moment for me to reflect on what God is saying to me, and to reflect on what I should do about what God has said to me.
Being delayed a half hour reminds me that rushing from one place to another is not healthy. “Abide, Michael. Sit. Wait. I have come to sit with you awhile as you write your devotion.” Cool. So I sit and reflect and share with you, now.
Thomas had a kairos. Jesus said he was leaving. “So where to, Jesus? We don’t have GPS. Or an iPhone.” Jesus responds that he is the way.
So maybe Thomas starts to realize (like we do, maybe) that following Jesus is not just a physical journey, but a physical AND spiritual one. That it’s about being shaped in a way of “being” that effects our actions and thoughts and beliefs, wherever we head…like Detroit, or home, or work, or school.
Next time a thought/event/whatever stops you in your tracks…pause…ask yourself, “What is God Saying?” And then ask yourself, “What would God have me do now?”
(Hint: if “what God says” tears you down and demoralizes you…that’s not God, that’s the devil. God brings life. God can bring anger or disappointment, but that message should be to a constructive end.)
Challenge: Share a kairos moment that you had today. If you feel really bold, answer the two questions:
1. What is God saying to me? And,
2. What would God have me do?
P (Prayer): Lord, you have spoken to us through the prophets of old. Now you speak to us through your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to listen to your voice and believe that you have called us to do greater things than “these.” Amen. (Quote source here.)
In an article published on July 24, 2020, titled, “How A Kairos Moment Changes the World,” by Chris Walker, Director of Spanish Ministry and Director of Ministry Development at PRMI, he provides the following definition for “kairos”:
Kairos: Now Time
“Kairos” (kairos) is one of two Greek words used for time that is used in Scripture.
Greek dictionaries give the meaning in terms of
- due measure,
- a fixed and definite time,
- the time when things are brought to crisis,
- the decisive epoch waited for,
- opportune or seasonable time,
- the right time (Thayer’s definition).
Kairos moments are not measured by minutes or hours but by what is happening.
Examples from Scripture of where Kairos is used of time.
The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! —Mark 1:15 (NIV)
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. —Romans 5:6 (NIV)
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. —Romans 13:11 (NIV)
A kairos moment occurs when it is God’s time to act in human affairs.
The Holy Spirit is present and moving in a person, situation, or group to accomplish some specific work for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. (Quote source here.)
The following statement comes from the opening paragraph of an article titled, “Your Kairos Moment,” on OneChurch.family (the author’s name is not mentioned):
We’ve all come to these points in our life when a decision is made that changes every day that follows. Many times, you weren’t even aware that you, in fact, were standing in such a moment. A tipping-point or a kairos moment is usually discovered behind the scenes of an ordinary day. It’s the moment when desperation and courage collide. It’s the moment when great opposition threatens all that you know and you choose to remain unmoved by fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. It’s the moment when a choice of faith catapults you into divine destiny.
KAIROS… (Quote source here.)
So be on the lookout for kairos moments, and it all boils down to exercising our faith. GotQuestions.org states the following regarding faith (as found in Hebrews 11):
The writer of Hebrews opens chapter 11 with a brief description of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV). This statement should not be regarded as a complete definition of faith. Instead, the author focuses on two critical aspects of a much broader theological concept to introduce a famous gallery of Old Testament heroes of faith. The first vital facet of faith is that it is “the substance of things hoped for.”
The word for “substance” (KJV, NKJV) in the clause faith is the substance of things hoped for, is alternatively translated as “assurance” (ESV), “confidence” (NIV), and “the reality” (NLT). In the original Greek, the term conveys the idea of “a firm foundation,” “the real being,” “the actual existence,” “the substantial nature,” and “a resolute trust.” One sense of the word refers to a title deed or a legal document guaranteeing the right to possess a property.
According to Moulton and Milligan in Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament, “faith is the substance of things hoped for” could be translated “faith is the title-deed of things hoped for” (Robertson, A. T., Word Pictures in the New Testament, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1960). Another commentary suggests that faith, as described in Hebrews 11:1, “apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial. Assurance gives the true idea. It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact” (Vincent, M. R., Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. 4, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887, p. 510).
The clause faith is the substance of things hoped for describes a conviction that already takes custody—here and now—of what we hope for and what God has promised us in the future. This present-day ownership of things hoped for and promised in the future is an inner reality. Right now, amid a global pandemic, financial crisis, and social unrest, as our world seems to be falling apart, we can stand on the rock-solid, unshakeable promises of God’s security, rest, peace, provision, mercy, grace, and salvation. His Word can be trusted. We can have full confidence in the Lord’s promises because they are real and a firm foundation for this life.
This “substance” or “assurance” describes our inward response to God’s trustworthy, unfailing nature. We can be sure of the Lord’s promises because, as the writer of Hebrews goes on to show, biblical heroes of every generation have proven them to be true: “By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death” (Hebrews 11:4–5). On and on goes the list. By faith Noah built the ark, saved his family, and became an heir of righteousness (Hebrews 11:7). By faith Abraham obeyed God and moved from his homeland (verses 8–10).
The writer of Hebrews presents example after example of those who demonstrated faith as the substance of things hoped for: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). From the patriarchs to King David to anonymous champions of faith, believers have trusted in God’s promises despite enduring unimaginable challenges (verses 17–38).
Faith, being the substance of things hoped for, is also an outward force. Possessing the reality of hope supplies believers with the motivation to endure trials and hardships. It results in decisive obedience—the kind that caused the ancient heroes of faith to act upon their hope. Faith, as the substance of things hoped for, activates believers to preach boldly, pray unceasingly, love unconditionally, serve compassionately, and work tirelessly “as long as it is day” (John 9:4). The inward substance of faith moves our hearts while the external reality moves mountains. (Quote source here.)
With my faith still very much intact (and, hopefully, yours is, too), be on the lookout for kairos moments. I’ll end this post with the words from Hebrews 11:6—And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards…
Those who . . .
Earnestly . . .
Seek him . . . .
YouTube Video: “Help Is On The Way” (Live on June 10, 2021) by TobyMac:
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