kairos…

A few years ago now I learnt about the phrase ‘a kairos moment’ – it’s something that has stuck in my mind. Thankfully, wikipedia have a pretty decent definition, so I don’t need to explain much more:

Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment.

An other way of describing it might be something like ‘carpe diem’, or seize the day. But that kind of makes it sound like a human decision. Kairos brings with it the idea that the Spirit of God might have moved in such as way as to create an opportunity for us, the followers of Jesus to grasp.

I, like I’m sure many others, have thought about the current financial crisis and the looming possibility of worldwide depression and how the church responds to it. In many ways the church has thrown itself thoroughly in with capitalism. We’ve believed that big is better. We’ve spent more and more on creating incredible worship centres for ourselves with awesome AV systems. The prosperity gospel has…well…quite literally prospered. Sometimes overtly, other times insidiously, other times accidentally.

And now we stand on the precipice. How have we fought for justice? How have we stood alongside the oppressed and cried ‘no more’? Have we been found wanting?

In some places it’s been great to see churches invest in exciting overseas projects. But sometimes it’s also been apparent that those sames churches would struggle to support projects in their own communities. Sometimes because these projects aren’t Christian. How sad?

Maybe, just maybe, we see a kairos moment before us now. We still have so much in terms of resources. We might see some difficult years ahead meaning cuts in budgets and deficits cutting our reserves. But around us we see many more who have much less. We might want to think that’s because of their own lack of financial responsibility. Whatever – I think this is one of those moments when we can ask ‘what would Jesus do’.

Let’s think creatively. What about Christians Against Poverty or exploring the possibility of micro-credit…so long consigned as a third world project tool? What about looking at creative ways of using our empty church buildings?

If this kairos moment passes and others rise to the challenge, will we be confronted with the words Jesus spoke to his followers?

Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

Now, please know how difficult I find it to type these words looking at my own life. Hypocrisy is something I fear. But I know this is something that we’re all called to think and act on.

Financial crisis brings with it great fear. But it also brings with it great opportunity for us to witness to the living God who walks alongside all people offering hope where there is none, and light where there is darkness…

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