Redeem the time Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Kingsley Larbi Sunday, July 5, 2020 Noonday Celebration Service at PIWC, Atomic

 

Read Ephesians 5.16-17 GNB.

For people with a sense of mission, every time of the day is for the fulfillment of that mission. They don’t wait for good days to do things. Every season is seen as a season of greatness. Cultures that place a high premium on time advance and develop faster than cultures which do not. The same is true of individuals. Time and tide wait for no man we are told. Time in itself is worthless without what we are able to put into it.

Chronos vs. Kairos
Time, as measured in hours, minutes, and seconds is chronos from which we get the word “chronology.” These are what give us days, years, and so on. Within these, there are kairos moments within which certain things must be done lest the opportunity is lost forever. We have seasons as well. There are seasons of abundance and seasons of scarcity; seasons to sow and seasons to reap. There are certain things that can only be done at certain points in time. When we miss them we miss them forever. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3.1). At my age, if I want to be a pilot, it is too late for no school will accept me—the time is past.

Every season comes with its opportunities
Some seasons are even described as days of evil. Paul told the Ephesians to take advantage of every opportunity for they were in evil days. These are times when everything seems to be in a state of flux. We are told to do certain things in certain ways. In days of evil there is constant change so it is difficult to see what will happen next. It is like the period of Covid-19 in which we find ourselves.

Because God is on our side we can live with hope and optimism
As people of God we can go through evil days with hope and optimism because God is on our side. Because of that, all things will work together for our good (Romans 8.28). This is because our God reigns and he is in control of the various events of life like the afflictions and tribulations of Covid-19. Everything is designed by God and it is his ultimate purpose for his people. This has always been the same, both in the Old Testament and the new. That is why it says in Jeremiah 29.11 that “I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; to give you a hope and an future.”

Background to the book of Ephesians
Our scripture for reflection comes from Ephesians 5. Ephesians is considered one of the prison epistles. When Paul was going through his first imprisonment, in that state of incarceration, he was able to write four books: Philemon, Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians. It was written between AD 61 and 63 so if you are counting from that period, it is a little less than 2000 years. The days of evil have never left; we have travelled more than a thousand years but they haven’t. Hence, be careful how you conduct your lives. He says to make good use of every opportunity you have because these are evil days. The NIV says to make the most of every opportunity. And the AMP says buy up every opportunity. It means that when there is an opportunity you don’t take some and leave some. Make maximum use of all that you have. Time is worthless except for what you put in it. There is chronos and then there is kairos which are strategic moments for which certain things must be done.

No room for self-pity
Though Paul was in prison, he didn’t have time for sympathy because he had had the encounter on the way to Damascus. He had seen the vision that Jesus was alive and real so he knew that he knew that he knew that Jesus Christ is alive so that gave him the boldness. So, he told the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord always and not be anxious about anything but with prayer and supplication make their requests known unto God and the peace of God would guard their hearts and minds in Christ (Philippians 4.6-7).

There was another occasion where Paul demonstrated that self-pity had no place in our walk with God. In Acts 16, he and Silas were severely beaten for casting out a demon from a fortune teller. They were then placed in a maximum-security prison with chains on their legs but they prayed and sang hymns and, as they did that, there was a violent earthquake and the foundations of the prison were shaken and the doors flew open and many good things happened thereafter.

In the old days the apostolic fathers used to sing a song: I have my liberty; I have my liberty; I have my liberty now now now now; my chains are broken down; Jesus has set me free; I have my liberty now.

The new normal
We must consider the protocols as the new normal and make the most of every current challenge. We must expect something good out of this context. We have seasons that bring bad things and those that bring good things but even seasons that have bad things can have good things come out of them. God can work out his plans and purposes for something good to come out of every bad situation. Let’s make maximum use of every opportunity we have. Our focus must be on our knowledge of God. We must know what God’s will is as Paul told the Ephesians. And for those of us in Africa, we shouldn’t spend time crying. The situation could have been worse. The outlook predicted by Bill Gates and co was pretty bad but people all around Africa resisted that it shouldn’t happen that way and thank God that though thousands are dying elsewhere, God has kept us. So, if for nothing at all, let us thank God for answering our prayers. Some are trying to find answers as to why it hasn’t devastated the continent of Africa but to no avail.

We must strengthen our relationships with God
The current situation should not lead us to develop negative attitudes towards our Christian lives. A little research shows that church attendance has dropped. And when I heard people trying to suggest that people are not coming to church because they are afraid of contracting the disease I said that cannot be for people go to the open markets, sit in trotro and Uber and the rest and they are not afraid but when it comes to church people give room to that excuse that people are not coming because they are afraid. The real reason people are not coming is not fear of the virus but something else I believe we must find out.

There was a point in time when we were not allowed to meet at all. If you are not excited about your faith and your life then you are missing something. We must shake ourselves out of slumber and dispel the notion that it is because of fear of the virus that people are not coming. Psalm 122 says I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord. So, if this is not your story you must know there is something wrong with you. In the New Testament it says not to neglect the assembly of the saints.

Paul says to buy up every opportunity.

Read Ecclesiastes 11.4-6.

Main references
Ephesians 5.15-17, Ecclesiastes 11.4-6

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