Why Being Ready for the End Means Being Joyfully Alive in the Present

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November 3, 2018

Mark 13:32-37

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

CONSIDER THIS

And so we come to the end of Jesus’ teaching about what it means to be prepared for the future. Let’s summarize.

Jesus speaks of two distinct outcomes. First, is the coming destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. He gives ample “signs” and even something of a timeline relating to its occurrence.

“Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” 13:29-30. 

Second, is the end of the age and the return of the Lord. Today’s text makes clear that there is no timeline and there will be no signs or warnings.

“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.

Because we cannot know, our remedy is to be prepared and the essence of being prepared does not mean storing up water and food. Being prepared means staying vigilant, alert and expectant. It means cultivating a lifestyle of attentiveness to the presence of God in all things. It does not mean an anxiety-ridden fretting away of the present while looking ahead to the future. To be attentive is to live completely, wholeheartedly and joyfully alive to the Father, abiding in the Life of Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Watchfulness—living attentive to and alive in the presence of God—this is why we constantly pray and consistently fast and daily feast on the Word of God.  We meet Jesus here.

Watchfulness—living attentive to and alive in the presence of God—this is why we meet regularly as the Body of Christ, around his Table, to remember and proclaim the Lord’s death and resurrection until He comes. We meet Jesus here.

Watchfulness—living attentive to and alive in the presence of God—this is why we band together with a few other believers to watch over one another in love, encouragement and accountability. We meet Jesus here.

Watchfulness—living attentive to and alive in the presence of God—this is why we feed the hungry and clothe the naked and care for the sick and and welcome the stranger and  visit the imprisoned. We meet Jesus here.

These are not so many spiritual disciplines and good deeds we ought to be doing. This is not a lifestyle of religious duty. This is LIFE. These are the divinely-appointed ways and means to live and move and have our being in the presence of the God who made us who remakes us because He loves us.

Do you see how far this way of life is from apocalyptic anxiety. This is the way of eschatological hope. Far from fear and sadness, this is all about hope and gladness. In the face of the worst day of our life, this is the faith that makes our soul well. It’s why Horatio Spafford wrote the song: 

And Lord, haste the day that my faith becomes sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul.

Tomorrow we shift gears from “last things” to the ultimate thing, which is the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This holy calling of Jesus creates a most appropriate bridge from chapter 13 to chapter 14.

What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Let’s take this holy calling with us and let’s go singing, “It is well. It is well with my soul.”

THE PRAYER

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Lord Jesus, Thank you for calling us to “keep watch.” Thank you that your Spirit is willing to help us. Wake me up. Would you graciously expose my slumbering ways. Shake me free from my lethargy. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. For the glory of your name, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTION

Have you made (or are you making) the shift from so many obligatory religious duties to this way of “living attentive and alive in the presence of God”? Do you see how prayer can be more about divine presence than “dutiful practice.” Do you see how fasting can be more about divine fellowship than just gritting your teeth and doing it. Do you see how attentiveness to those in need can be more about divine encounter than having pity on poor people?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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