October 14, 2016
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: 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.44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I love C.S. Lewis’ short book, The ScrewTape Letters, a collection of letters written from a senior demon, Screwtape, to a junior demon, Wormwood. One of my favorite quotes comes from Screwtape’s lesson to Wormwood on the Church. The “patient” referenced here is an average lay person from an average church, and the junior demon has been assigned to wreck their faith.
“One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes even our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate.”
To “keep watch” as Jesus instructs in today’s text is a comprehensive calling. By this he does not mean to live with a mentality of escape from the world into an endless singing of When We All Get To Heaven. He is talking about aligning all of our faculties of attention, perception, and action and bringing them into a laser-like focus on one all consuming reality: the Kingdom of on-Earth-as-it-is-in-Heaven. To “keep watch” recalls Jesus’ signal calling to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.
I think we often mistake an exhortation like, “keep watch,” as an admonition to get our priorities straight. This gets translated into a hierarchical list that usually looks like 1. God, 2. Family, 3. Church, 4. Country and so on (though many might reverse #3 and #4). Lewis’ quote above only slightly exposes the absurdity of such a list. “Keep watch,” does not mean to keep one’s priorities straight. It means to have one singular, controlling priority.
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Keeping watch does not mean installing a security system so we can avoid being caught off guard by a thief. It means to be living a singularly focused life. And this does not mean becoming a religious fanatic. It means to live from the core of who you are for the sake of what ultimately matters. Keeping watch means learning to be a person whose eyes are fixed on Jesus and whose heart is aimed at the Kingdom of God. This will lead to becoming a different kind of spouse, parent, child, employee, boss, artist and so forth.
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace of watchfulness. Grant us an attentiveness beyond our own attention. Reveal to us our distractedness with the muchness and manyness of our lives. Come Holy Spirit and realign our priorities until there is only one priority that runs through all we are and all we do. In Jesus name, Amen.
- What do you make of this idea of having a priority that runs through all of life instead of a set of ranked priorities?
2. What is the nature of your distractedness?
3. What will it mean for you to “keep watch.”
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. email@example.com.