Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is Your Spiritual Motto "Be Prepared"?

Anyone who has been a leader in Boy Scouts, a parent of a Boy Scout or, especially, been a Boy Scout know that the motto is "Be Prepared". This covered everything from planning outings to being willing to offer assistance to anyone who needed help. It meant being aware of ones environment and the situation at hand instead of being too focused on yourself. In this age of personal entertainment in our "plugged-in" society it is seldom that we are aware of our environment so neither are we "prepared". Not being prepared as a Christian is a spiritually unhealthy and dangerous condition.

First we have the responsibility of being ready and available any time the Holy Spirit prompts us to be involved in another person's life. There is also the responsibility we have for our "neighbour", the person in need, whatever that need may be. The Scripture encourages us:

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)

It comes across a little more urgent in this verse:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

This is hard to do as we sit on the bus with our eyes closed and our mp3 players plugged in. It is hard to do as we walk down the street reading our emails and texting our friends. It is hard to do when we fail to understand God's priority in our life. He wants us engaged with our environment and prepared to respond to the opportunities he gives us.

Second, we have the responsibility to make sure we are prepared to face each and every storm we must face. I believe we fail to appreciate the situation we are in as the world grows darker and colder toward Jesus. The attacks are going to grow, become more bold and will try to wear down our faith. I keep trying to tell people that the real battle is over our heart and mind. The enemy will use every means possible to make our love grow cold and break our trust in Jesus. Little and big things will come against us giving him the opportunity to whisper, "Did God really say ..." until he has us doubting the vary existence of God. You may think he can't do it but you are not as strong as you think. We are growing weaker in this age because our relationship with Jesus is not as strong and solid as it should be; too many distractions. The Scriptures warn us:

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Be alert. Resist. Some people treat faith like a game. This is no game. It is deadly serious and if you are not looking to strengthen your relationship with Jesus you will not be prepared for the faith destroying attacks of the enemy. In this day and age it is seldom the intellect that he attacks but more the matters of the heart. Therefore, allow a guard to be set over your heart and mind:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Third, the Day of the Lord is approaching and nothing fake is going to survive. Are you prepared? In Matthew 25 Jesus told a parable of ten virgins waiting to greet the groom. It is a parable concerning being prepared. Five of the virgins did not take the matter seriously and were foolish in their preparation, not bringing extra oil for their lamps. It took longer than they expected and they fell asleep while waiting. They awoke to the announcement that the groom was approaching. Those who came prepared trimmed their lamps and went out to greet the groom whereas the foolish ones had to run off to try to find more oil.

There is no need to read anything more into this parable then the simple message,  if we wait for the moment of Jesus' return before checking ourselves, our relationship, our faith, it will be too late. Faith is not something we should increase only as the storms of life hit; it must be something that we are constantly keeping healthy and strong. The best way to do this is to live by it instead of living by what we see and know. It is possible to live a comfortable and happy life in this world without faith but it will get you nowhere when Jesus returns. We cannot live according to our flesh but instead by our spirit and this requires a vibrant, growing faith relationship with Jesus. As we work on this daily, trusting him in all matters of our life, making decisions according to his character instead of our own, we will gain the spiritual muscles necessary. We cannot afford to be unprepared like the five virgins who had a disastrous end:

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (Matthew 26:10-13)

We can't afford to play church any more. We can't afford to put as little effort as possible into this relationship. Most of us put more effort into fulfilling our bodies' appetites and neglect our soul by neglecting the Spirit. We need to become serious in all these matters before the opportunity has passed us by. We need to adopt the Boy Scout motto and learn to be prepared. Not being prepared as a disciple of Jesus is a spiritual unhealthy and dangerous condition.

No comments: