Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Know It Is Late, But Don't Fall Asleep!

Following up on yesterday's blog I need to ask you, are you expecting Jesus to return today? It is not always easy to live with such constant expectation but at the same time it is dangerous not to. Jesus gave warning through a number of parables that his return will be at a time when he is least expected. In the parable of the virgins we were warned not to fall asleep and be unprepared for the return of the groom. In the parable of the house servants Jesus warned that we had better be busy with the work given to us when he arrives to take us home; that the master of the house will return unannounced:

"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Luke 12:35-40)

Perhaps it was to this that Peter was referring to when he warned:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10)

Or he was building on what Paul had already written in one of his letters:

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3) 

This is what I am concerned about for us today, that we have forgotten, that we are falling asleep, that we are not carrying out the tasks and jobs that the Master has given to us. Sometimes I think we are too busy trying to build our own little empires and have forgotten the mission given to us by Jesus. We need a good wake up call, a reminder that all of this is very real, very current and every day carries with it the possibility that this may be the day of the return of Jesus. Peter says that with such knowledge there should be a desire in us to live lives that honour Jesus:

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Although fear can motivate people for a short period of time, it is the positive influence that is longer lasting. We should want to avoid the destruction of everything because it is not going to be pleasant (greatest understatement ever) but our real motivation should be our desire to participate in the new creation that will follow the destruction:

That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:12-13)

It is this promise that should motivate us to live entirely for Jesus, to serve him in obedience, to desire to be everything the Father sees us to be. Knowing that Jesus' return will not be announced helps us not to wait to the last minute to live to honour him. It is similar to the thinking of some people who think they can do what they want all their life and then moments before they die ask for forgiveness and get into heaven. Unfortunately none of us know the manner in which we will die or the day or the hour. If we live like this we are gambling with our eternity because that last moment may never be given to us. It is the same for the lazy and disobedient servant. A last moment chance to change will not be given to them. However, the promise of what is to come should be enough to motivate us to live our lives in a manner that honours our Jesus every moment of our lives, making us ready for his return:

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. (2 Peter 3:14-15)

We need to shake off the drowsiness that is overtaking us and we need to encourage each other to press on with our chores and tasks. There are billions of people who are walking this planet not knowing Jesus. There are millions dying every day that have not even heard his name. We sit back watching the lies of false gods creep across the globe, promising peace but bringing with it only slavery and destruction. Millions of people who carry the truth do nothing to counter the advance of the enemy. If we are bearers of the truth we need to ensure that we are strong in the Lord and serving strong:

Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18)

My friends, let us be watchful, ready, and found serving today. Jesus is returning for his Bride.

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