This is a time of year when we have a greater awareness that our time is short. Christmas is coming quickly. The new year will bring 2013 to a close and 2014 into reality. All of the anniversaries and birthdays, milestones and significant events will be observed again in the coming year. Time really does pass quickly.
This is also a time of year when Bible students often return to the incarnation texts. The events preceding the birth of the Messiah fascinate us, even though we have read them many times. Some church traditions observe Advent, renewing a sense of wonder and anticipation for the coming Christ. This is true as we read the birth narratives … and also as we await the return of Jesus Christ.
The impending parousia … the second coming of Jesus Christ … seems to be on the mind of the Apostle Paul as he nears the end of his letter to the Romans.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11
How many of us regard our salvation journey in this way? Do we think of ourselves as being closer to the day when the promise will be revealed? I think we have to be intentionally focused on our life in the shadow of His return. It is very easy to be caught up in the noise and distraction of each day and to forget to give attention to spiritual matters in our lives. Each day we are closer to our ultimate salvation. Time to wake up!
What do wide-awake Christians do?
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Romans 13:12-13
The contrast between living in the darkness of sin and the light of God’s will can be found throughout the writings of Paul. Putting aside the dark ways of life reminds us of the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Roman church where he describes the lifestyles of the unsaved and unsavory. Here is a similar list that briefly mentions some of the most significant temptations of any day … sexual immorality and treating people unkindly. In our world, we may separate those two. Paul sees them both as equally dark. Especially in comparison.
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14
The comparison is not to other good people, but to Jesus Christ himself. When compared to the way he loved and treated people, the using of other people to carelessly fulfill sexual needs seems darker than we might have thought at first. Dealing with each other in envious ways that cause friction and trouble, equally dark.
Thus the admonition to wake up … wrap our lives with the light and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ … and await our day with a ray of hope.
This was also the message of Jesus as he announced his return with certainty and boldness in Matthew 24:36-44. In that text there are several pronouncements to keep our attention focused in the right direction:
– That day is unknown. No one knows the hour of that day. So, basically, anyone who claims to know when Jesus is coming back is not telling you the truth. (Matthew 24:36)
– That day is a normal day. The things you see every day will be seen on that day. Eating, drinking, marrying, living … there will be no signal that this will be the last day. So, basically, anyone who claims to know when Jeus sis coming back due to some warning signals in the sky, is not telling you the truth. (Matthew 24:37-39)
– That day is a day of sudden judgment. People will disappear. Not everyone is going to be saved. So, basically, anyone who tells you that in the end everyone will be saved is not telling you the truth. (Matthew 24:40-41)
– That day is sure to come, so be ready! (Matthew 24:44)
Jesus demonstrates his knowledge of human nature with a short parable within this teaching.
If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. Matthew 24:43
What if we did know exactly the signs, dates, and time of the return of Jesus Christ? What would we do? I think most people would ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ … until the day before THAT DAY. I might go buy a Jaguar on credit, knowing I wouldn’t actually have to pay for it! I can see a reason behind keeping that day a secret.
The reason is that the Christian life is not JUST about being ready for that day, it is about being alert, awake, and alive to the power of Christ in us … and helping other people get ready for that day.
So it is time to wake up, Christians!
Thanks for reading!