There are two Greek words, used in the New Testament, that are commonly translated as ‘time’. Although they are not always used consistently by the biblical authors, together they represent two different conceptions of time.
The word chronos generally describes the linear idea that we are most familiar with in modern culture. The other word, kairos, often signifies the sense of an ‘opportune moment’, a particular moment in time where something significant occurs. The other important ingredient in such a moment is that of relationship.
Rebecca Nye, following her extensive research into childhood spirituality, has proposed that the ‘core’ of children’s spirituality is ‘relational consciousness‘, by which she means particular moments of ‘an unusual level of consciousness or perceptiveness… expressed in a context of how the child related to things, other people, him/herself, and God.’1
Maybe this is one aspect of what Jesus was referring to when he said that we must become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of God. To journey any distance into the Kingdom of God requires us to be ready for kairos moments with each other and with God. It is in responding to these occasions that we make progress – so we need not just to pray but ‘to watch and pray’.
1 Rebecca Nye, ‘Identifying the Core of Children’s Spirituality’ in David Hay & Rebecca Nye, The Spirit of the Child, London: Jessica Kingsley, 2006, 109.
(Apart from two years running a relief agency in Thailand, Phil Wield worked for many years in IT, mainly in the NHS and the banking sector. He then studied theology and counselling at London School of Theology and now works as a Counsellor in private practice, as well as being the Assistant Manager of Watford Christian Counselling Service. He is a member of Watford Community Church.
He believes that recent advances in neuroscientific research are helping us to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be created in the image of God, in that we are profoundly relational beings. It is also provoking the Western church to rediscover its heritage in terms of Christian Spirituality, especially in the area of meditation.
Phil is married to Cathy and they have four children and two grandchildren).