Time is money. Our modern capitalist culture has etched this commandment into tablets of stone. As Michael Ventura has stated, “People wake up every morning with a price on their heads.” They are defined by how much they produce every hour or by how much they earn every hour.
But the Bible defines time much differently. Time is sacred. Time is love. Speaking to the philosophers of his day, the Apostle Paul provides a heavenly perspective to time and space. He states, “And [God] determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). In other words, time and space are God-ordained mediums, created primarily for relationship.
I love what N.T. Wright states in The Way of the Lord, regarding this view of time and space:
“The God we know in Jesus claims the entire world, and all its nations, as his own; and wherever this God is worshipped, in an igloo in the Arctic wastes or a mud hut on the equator, in a mighty cathedral or a slum hospital, in that spot another part of God’s created space, as well as another moment of God’s created time, is quietly claimed as his own.”
God is active in time and space as creation mediates his Presence, or as Paul states, “he is not far from each one of us.” Time and space are the practical, moment-by-moment medium in which people actually seek, reach out and find God. In this way, time and space can be essential instruments of human and societal transformation.
Later in Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul explains how to live sacredly and relationally in time and space. He writes, “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Paul chooses the Greek word kairos for time, rather than chronos. In this light, “making the most of every opportunity” loses its modern time-management perspective and takes on something much deeper. A better translation would be “Buy back or fully appropriate for yourself the fulfilled time,” where the fulfilled time is the new reality and order of God’s kingdom. In other words, we should be experiencing a new kind of daily experience in space and time – one in the order of being that was inaugurated in Jesus’ incarnation and finally consummated in his return.
Robert Mulholland Jr., in Shaped by the Word, describes this life as “kairotic existence” – the state of being harmoniously in relationship with God as our lives are shaped by the will of God, empowered by the indwelling presence of God, lived out in community, and founded upon the rhythms of spiritual disciplines. He states that it is a life where:
“We are to immerse ourselves completely in, totally consecrate ourselves to, and unconditionally yield ourselves to this new order of being in Christ that God offers. We are to allow our daily life to be shaped by the dynamics of that new order of being – by its values and structure, by its pervading reality of the presence, purpose, and power of God.”
The purpose of a missional community is to raise up a “kairotic people” or a “kairotic community” – those immersed in and living together in the reality of the kairotic existence so as to embody and incarnate Christ in and to the world. Incarnating Christ requires those who live a kairotic existence and this kairotic existence begins inwardly.
In Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard defines Christian formation as “the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself.” In this way, to the degree inward spiritual formation into Christlikeness is accomplished, the outward life becomes the natural expression of the now embodied character and teaching of Jesus. Therefore, the missional community’s central task is aiding each member in developing a personal “rule of life” – a pattern or rhythm of spiritual exercises that provides the structure and direction for spiritual growth. This rule of life transforms daily moments and routines into interactive engagements with God or into kairotic existence. And it is from this central task that all of the other purposes of the missional community flow.