Next week I plan to start a new series in which we’ll be taking a deep dive into the book of James. But for this week, I wanted to share something that has been pressing on my heart: the need for the Christian to be ready.
The world is crazy right now. Between natural disasters and a global pandemic, even the non-Christian can see the brokenness around us. As Christians though, we see increasing reasons for alarm. The breakdown of the nuclear family, killing of babies in the womb, rejection of a gender binary, and persecution for holding to biblical morality are a few of the many things we are seeing happen around us. It is not a time for Christians to be off their guard, yet so many of us are passive and bend on moral issues. Often we are watching the tragedies and depravity around us while sitting on our hands.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus warns us to be ready in the parable of the ten virgins. “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish ones took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil for their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, the all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
I am not necessarily saying that Jesus is coming again to judge and reign over the world in my life time. It may not even be the next generation or the one after that. We don’t know when this will happen, only the Father knows (Mark 13:32). And while we may not live to see the tribulation, the Church has a long history of suffering for Christ and we must be willing to partake in the honor of suffering for The Lord’s sake. Thus, what I am saying is that we should be like the wise virgins and prepare ourselves, come what may.
It would be no good for me to say, “Prepare yourself!” and then walk away leaving you with no further indication of what I believe that looks like. I believe to carry extra “oil” looks like what God calls us to in the Ten Commandments, what Jesus calls us to in the Sermon on the Mount, and what is echoed throughout the whole of scripture:
No, we are not saved by our obedience. We are saved from our sins and the consequences of them by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and by putting our trust in Him. Our obedience is evidence of this trust. Every time we sin as believers we put distance between us and the Holy Spirit until we come to repentance. While this does not make us lose our salvation, sin, which is disobedience to God’s moral law, done enough could make us numb to the Holy Spirit’s promoting and we may choose to walk away all together. Obedience is trust lived out.
So what does radical obedience look like?
It looks like reading the Bible regularly so that we may know God’s heart. The Bible is the best way God can talk to us as the Holy Spirit helps us understand it.
It looks like loving God with all our hearts, souls, and mind. We love Him in action, spirt, and intellect.
It looks like praying continously. No relationship can thrive without communication. Our relationship with the Most High God thrives when we come and commune with Him.
It looks like loving our neighbor as ourselves. Whether we are with the Christian or the non-Christian, our attitude and actions should be that of genuine love.
It looks like engaging in a community of Christians who hold to sound doctrine. Attendance to church and small groups is vitally important. It is equally important that your place of attendance is believing and teaching exactly what the Bible says and not reinterpreting it to fit in with culture.
It looks like not living by lies. We live in a world where morality is relative, but we need not live by it’s ever changing standards. We shouldn’t accept lies about truth and reality nor should we tell them. We hold to biblical truth regardless of how unpopular it is or how much backlash we receive from our stance.
It looks like trusting God. We trust that He is who He says He is. We trust that He is good even when we don’t feel or see it. We trust that He is in control when the world seems to be out if control. We trust that He has overcome the world. We trust that our sufferings are for His glory. We trust in God.
I don’t know what this year or 5 or 20 or 100 years from now will bring. Jesus may come again. The Church may undergo heavy persecution. But I do know that Jesus calls each and every one of us to be wise and to be prepared. Come what may.