One assignment the Study Commission on Doctrine at the FMCiC is beginning to explore is a resource document that discusses a theology of possessions. The thought that immediately comes to my mind is that this is a statement on stuff. A theology of possessions, however, must cover more than just materialism and the things that we can possess. In an initial brainstorming session other subjects were raised such as tithing, the discernment between luxuries and necessities, sharing versus ownership, social status, care of our bodies, creation care and time.
The subject of time is interesting because of all the different ways a theology of possessions could be examined, time is something everyone has in equal measure. We speak of time being money, and become frustrated with wasting time, yet in our busy and fast paced world it seems like there is never enough time.
One of the most unusual books of the Bible, Ecclesiastes, deals with the concept of time. Ecclesiastes chapter 3 says that there is a time for everything, and some would suggest that a good translation for the term hevel, translated as meaningless throughout all of Ecclesiastes in the NIV, is temporary or momentary. When people burn out because they operate 24/7, they have forgotten the command to enjoy a Sabbath rest and have done what the author of Ecclesiastes has described, chased after the wind.
In the New Testament there are two Greek words translated into English as time. The first word is chronos, from which we get our English word chronology. This word means time, and can include a limited time, or span of time, or a measure of time. Chronos can refer to a point of time and a specific date. This word was used in Acts 1:21 in talking about finding a new disciple to replace Judas. The disciples said the replacement, “…will have to be a man who was with us the whole time (chornos) the Lord Jesus lived among us.”
There’s another word the Greeks had for time and that was Kairos. Kairos also meant time, but was used instead of Chronos when they wanted to speak about a decisive moment in time. Kairos is used of the moment when prophecy is fulfilled. Kairos is more than just time as we know it. Kairos is a Divine appointment and God’s moment of opportunity. The word is also used throughout the New Testament to speak of opportunities that we have to do good (Gal. 6:10, Eph. 5:15-16, Col. 4:5). These opportunities or moments are not just random occurrences, but divinely ordained God moments where we can participate and engage in something significant. Our perspective on life will change if we stop being driven endlessly by Chronos and living in the hour of Kairos.
In the Free Methodist Manual, chapter 8 paragraph 801 is advice to minsters with a statement on the use of time. I think this simple statement works well as a principle for all people: “USE OF TIME: Be disciplined. Live an orderly and balanced life. Manage your time well. Resist both laziness and workaholism.”