“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working…I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does….For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” John 5:17, 19, 20 Jesus
Kairos living is the most exciting life you will ever want to live. It is filled with adventure. It is full of surprises. Once you enter into this kind of life you will never want to go back to the old way of living. It is how Jesus lived His life.
Most of us are driven by the clock and our busy lives and deadlines, but Jesus lived His life free of these constraints. His relationship with His Father and loving and serving people were at the heart of what allowed Him to live a kairos life.
You are probably asking, “What is kairos?” I am glad you asked! The Greek has two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos concerns time as in the 24-hour day. We define our workweeks by the number of hours that we work. We have a list of things to do and only so much time to get everything done. Having a chronos mind-set can often make us miss out on seeing what God is doing all around us. Our eyes are instead trained on the clock, where we need to go next, and checking off another item on our “to do list.”
Kairos is quite different than chronos. It is not linear. It doesn’t include a clock or a schedule. It is living life in the moment and being fully present when you are with people in that moment. Kairos is best referred to as an “opportunity.” For example, parents have only a certain season of time to raise their children and then the opportunity is over. Opportunity may refer to a lengthy period of chronos or the short kairos moments that we are to redeem. The Apostle Paul says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity (kairos)…” (Ephesians 5:16, 17 NIV). And again he says in Colossians 4:5, “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity (kairos).”
The funny thing about kairos moments is that they are often viewed as intrusions in our lives. They frequently occur when we least expect them and they seldom fit into our self-determined plan for the day. Each time one occurs, we are forced to make a choice. Do I disrupt my plans and choose to lay them aside for the sake of what God is doing in the moment?
I have often thought that when Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan, He was making a comparison between the way He lived His life and the way the religious leaders of His day lived theirs. The priest and the Levite were too busy after their temple service activities to stop and care for their desperate “neighbor” who was beaten and robbed and left to die by the side of the road. Oddly enough, he uses the most despised in society in that day, the Samaritan, to demonstrate extraordinary “neighbor-love.” The religious leaders missed out on the kairos moment. It may have been an inconvenience to their getting home on time or there was too much risk involved. They could not be bothered.
“Doing what the Father is doing”
You may be asking now, “How do I move from seeing these moments as more than impositions and enter into the kairos life?” During the early development of Neighborhood Initiative the Lord helped me understand that there were two ways I could choose to move forward with this good work that He initiated. I could choose to try and make things happen on my own or I could join Him in what He was doing. This is at the heart of the kairos lifestyle. I discovered the first approach was difficult and frustrating and the second was easy and full of wonderful surprises.
In the early days of NI, Dallas Willard told me, “Don’t stop doing what you are doing. If you keep moving forward with what you are doing we will see revival and awakening.” These were significant words coming from Dallas, one who chose his words carefully. I took what he said to heart.
If you have listened to or read much of Dallas, one of his noteworthy quotes among so many was, “Don’t try to make anything happen.” I watched this up close and personal in his life. He by no means was a self-promoter and yet God used him greatly to influence so many lives in and outside the church. He understood and lived in the “easy yoke” with Jesus and did what the Father was doing.
Not trying to make something happen is such a freeing way to live life. I have found there are three things that I can do that have enabled me to live a life free of performance and “trying to make something happen.” These three simple activities have allowed me to see what the Father is doing and then I join Him. They have shown me His activity in my own neighborhood. These three have enabled me to live the kairos life and seize divine opportunities. Here are the three very simple activities: “I pray,” and “I wait,” and “I watch.”
Let me bring it home. Each Tuesday morning I walk through my neighborhood and I pray for each of my neighbors by name and I ask the Lord to show me what He is doing in their lives. Sometimes He will speak to me about my neighbors or give me ideas of what He would like me to do. Sometimes I hear nothing or see nothing happening and I have boldly asked Him, “Is this a fruitless activity?” He has faithfully and dramatically shown me that He is in favor of my weekly prayer walks.
Rather than try to make something happen in my neighborhood after I pray, I wait for Him. This kind of waiting is not a passive waiting, but a waiting with a sense of expectation. When Isaiah speaks of “those who wait on the Lord” in Isaiah 40:31, he is referring to a waiting with expectation and that’s the kind of waiting I do. I pray and then I wait for the next thing the Father invites me to do with Him in my neighborhood.
Then I watch and out of nowhere something will happen that I least expect. A neighbor will call me and ask me to perform a wedding at his home or another will ask me to officiate at a funeral for someone in the neighborhood. Or, a fifty-foot tree is blown down in front of our home, a car is crushed, the tree lands on our neighbor’s house across the street, and an opportunity opens up with a neighbor. Or, I follow an ambulance up the street and that experience opens a new relationship with one of my neighbors. You can’t make these kinds of situations happen. Because of His sovereign working and prayer, God has invited me in to what He is doing.
Living the kairos life with the Father is like a little kid who is waiting for his dad to invite him on a new excursion with him. He knows that only dad can drive the car and he waits for his dad to say, “Come on, kid! I have a wonderful surprise for you. Let’s go!” And off they go together with dad in the driver’s seat. This is the adventure I spoke of earlier. This is the kairos life: becoming like a child and enjoying the ride with Dad on an amazing journey through life.
With this perspective, we enter into our reading of Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God.