Chaos: 1. A condition or place of great disorder or confusion.
Kairos: 1. A propitious moment for decision or action; 2. Biblically, a present moment that requires action, conversion, and transformation—a change of life (Mark 1:14-15; I Corinthians 6:1-2). Kairos is not just crisis but opportunity and favor.
There is a wonderful contrast between chaos and kairos in the response of the Thessalonians and Bereans to the apostolic preaching of Paul (Acts 17:1-15). In Thessalonica, Paul and Barnabas went into the synagogue and spoke so effectively that some Jews and great number of God-fearing Greeks believed (17:1-4). But those who rejected their preaching rounded up some “bad characters,” formed a mob, and started a riot. With false accusations “the crowd and the city were thrown into a turmoil (from the Greek verb tarasso, literally to stir up and create disorder). It was chaos (17:5-9). So, Paul and Barnabas were sent away in the middle of the night to escape the chaos and carry on their preaching mission in Berea.
What do faithful Christ followers do in the face of chaos? The believers in Thessalonica did not let the chaos and turmoil paralyze them. They didn’t pause to dialogue with the mob. They didn’t despair in the face of riots. They didn’t apologize for proclaiming Jesus as King. Jesus IS the King, we are citizens of his kingdom, and, as his citizens, we await his coming again (Phil 3:20). That is the message of the gospel, even if it offends Caesar or the crowd. The mission was too important to suspend or shut down. So, they seized the moment—this kairos moment for decisive action in support of the church’s mission—and sent Paul and Barnabas on to Berea.
This Sunday, I heard a preacher in a very popular, contemporary community church publicly repent for contributing to a culture of casual Christianity. The time is coming, he warned, when casual Christians will disappear like the seed that falls on the shallow ground and fails to take root, or the seed that is choked by the cares and desires of this world (Mark 4: 1-20). In North America, Christians are facing the soft totalitarianism of a social media “cancel culture” that labels biblical values on human sexuality and life “hateful” and “oppressive.” Instead of engaging in respectful debate, political discourse has been replaced by scorched-earth tweets, demonization of those with whom one disagrees, and even violence in the streets.
Across the globe, social media is shaping the theology of Christians more than the Bible. In the African edition of The Gospel Coalition online, [LINK: https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/is-social-media-damaging-my-ability-to-read-the-bible/ ] Joshua Leymian raises the question, “Is social media damaging my ability to read the Bible?” He concludes that social media steals our time, steals our attention span, keeps things shallow, reinforces by algorithms our “shared feelings” with like-minded social media users, and robs us of the ability to “meditate” carefully on God’s word. What a stark contrast to the kind of eager, daily, thorough study of the Scriptures that characterized the Berean’s testing of new teaching to see if it were true (Acts 17:10-12).
In contrast to the believers in Berea who tested the truth of new teaching by an eager, daily, thorough examination of the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-12), the Church of England just released a report, “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) that encourages Anglicans to a life of “deep listening” on matters of gender and sexuality—a process designed to never arrive at the truth. As one theologian observed, LLF recognizes that making any statement about sex and the Church risks angering some and damaging the identity of others. It does not respect the plain reading of the Bible in its literal and grammatical sense but rather disdains it and states that LLF is not of one mind on the interpretation of Scripture. As Oliver O’Donovan explains in defense of LLF:
“…there is the question of ‘feeling,’ which our document frequently acknowledges and not infrequently displays. There is no need to apologize for feeling these days. The reign of the clear-thinking rationalist and his icebox brain has long gone; all philosophers today interpret feeling as a way of knowing.” [LINK: https://livingchurch.org/covenant/2020/11/10/mapping-the-terrain-for-engagement-on-human-sexuality/ ]
So, it is no longer the truth that matters to Anglicans in the Mother Church, but feelings. Feelings fed and drove the mob in Thessalonica, in contrast to the careful search for the truth among the Bereans concerning the Scriptures. Which place will we as Anglicans choose to live – in Thessalonica or in Berea? In chaos or in kairos?
I wonder how O’Donovan would respond to the “clear-thinking rationalism and ice-box brain” of that great Anglican apologist, the Rev. Dr. John Stott, and his reflection on the Church to be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16):
“The church, on the other hand, is set in the world with a double role, as salt to arrest—or at least to hinder—the process of social decay and as light to dispel the darkness… to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing or non-existent…
So Jesus calls his disciples to exert a double influence on the secular community, a negative influence by arresting its decay and a positive influence by bringing light into its darkness, For it is one thing to stop the spread of evil; it is another to promote the spread of truth, beauty, and goodness.”
Church, we are facing a kairos moment. Will we be more courageous and more outspoken in standing for biblical values—or less? Will we not only condemn evil but also actively promote within the social and political structures of our culture that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4: 8-9)? Or will we withdraw and hide? Even more, as Stott observes, “fallen human beings need more than barricades to stop them becoming as bad as they could be. They need regeneration, new life through the Gospel.” Will we be more courageous in sharing the transforming of love of Jesus Christ who alone can rescue fallen human beings from darkness and hell? Will we share even if our words and deeds bite and sting as salt sometimes does or even as light will sometimes blind as well as attract?
In this kairos moment, will we too repent of everything we have done in word or deed to contribute to a culture of casual Christianity?
 Stott, JRW Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (IVP, 1978) at 59, 64.
 Ibid. at 67.