Thursday 29 April 2021

Making the most of the time

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,

making the most of the time, because the days are evil.

—Ephesians 5:15-16

As I survey the 2020-21 academic year, I note how it will forever be remembered as the year that ICS—like so many other institutions of higher education—‘went online’, offering the entirety of our programs in distance mode so that we could both protect the health of our students and employees, and help curb the spread of the coronavirus in our community. Yet even as we give thanks for the twin blessings of resilience and creativity that have helped us meet the challenges of the pandemic, we enter its second year and its terrible third wave very much in agreement with Paul: “the days are evil.”

But notice that Paul does not only say that the days are evil. He says much more, even in these two short verses. He begins with the advice to live carefully and wisely, and in doing so, to “make the most of the time,” precisely because the days are evil. This juxtaposition is curious. What relationship does Paul see between our evil days and his advice to seize time through wise and careful living? If “the days” that mark our time are in fact evil, how then can we possibly make the most of them?

The answer to that last question can only be that the days are not irretrievably or irredeemably evil. On the contrary, as the gospel’s joyful message consistently promises and assures us, these evil days can be saved! They can be “made good'' precisely because God originally made them good. Indeed, the Greek word exagorazomenoi, which my NRSV translates as “making the most of,” is perhaps better translated as “redeeming” (buying back, or out of). Unlike the days, the time (kairon) is not simply or only evil, because it also harbours God’s possibility for redemption, for making all things, even evil things, good. As agents of God’s love, God empowers us to buy the time back so that evil will no longer consume our days.

This passage thus asks us to think more deeply about what it means to “make the most of the time.” More than simply asking us how much we managed to pack in or get done, it asks us to “rescue from loss” (another possible translation of exagorazomenoi) the potential for love, joy, and healing waiting to burst forth in every moment, even and especially when the days are evil. Are we shaping our lives with the care and wisdom that will orient us to seek God’s shalom? Do our lives incarnate that possibility right now? These are momentous yet also joyous questions, and we must never stop asking them.

Through your faithful and prayerful support of our work, you have willingly joined ICS students, faculty, and staff in our collective effort to answer these last questions with a resounding ‘Yes!’ Together, then, let’s continue to strive to make the most of the time!

Shalom, friends!

Ron Kuipers