For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (I Thessalonians 5:2,6,8)
As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, He can tell that His disciples were expecting the Kingdom to fully come soon, so He tells a parable about a ruler who went away for a long time to receive a kingdom. Before he left, he entrusted 3 servants with money. When he returned, he evaluated the stewardship of the servants, greatly rewarded 2 faithful ones who multiplied his money, and scolded the one who did nothing with it. The point was simple: no, the Kingdom wasn’t coming politically, militarily, or territorially anytime soon, He has to go away for awhile first. However, they have a responsibility, in His absence, to steward the time, resources and gifts they’d been given faithfully, which directly correlates to their reward when He returns as King!
Many of us tend to wonder when Jesus Christ is going to return. It’s been quite a long time since He left us, and it can be disheartening to feel like we’re working for someone who’s never coming back. However, the truth is that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God, but will soon return “like a thief in the night” to reign as King and Savior of the world! It’s our job to be awake and watchful in this interim period since He’s given us a mission to accomplish in His absence, as well as the resources to carry out that mission. When He returns, we will be accountable to Him for our stewardship of those resources towards that mission, so it would be wise of us constantly be about our Father’s business!
So, what is the mission we’ve been left to do exactly? According to Jesus and the Apostles, the mission is to “walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us.” (Ephesians 5:2) In other words, our task is to personally know Jesus and His powerful, transforming love so deeply that we live it out before others. And this means more than just niceties and smiles, it means sacrificially putting the needs and wellbeing of others before our own; it means sharing the Gospel with as many people as we can; it means building each other up in our faith and building deep relationships with people. As we live this kind of life, the temptation quickly arises to worry more about our own needs and priorities rather than those of the Kingdom. So, part of this mission is also faithfully trusting our Father to lead us, strengthen us, and provide for us as we seek His Kingdom. Our faithfulness as watchful, woke servants will bring great reward when the Kingdom fully comes!
- Wake up! In Jesus’ absence, we’re called to be fully awake and alert, faithfully obeying Him by using our gifts, resources, and time to love others in His name, not sleeping and neglecting our stewardship! We do this in faith, trusting that as we carry out this ministry, God will provide and care for us. As Paul encourages the Thessalonians to be awake, sober, and watchful in light of the Messiah’s return by living in faith and love, Jesus is teaching us to actively watch for the ways He’s moving, and follow Him in loving people with the Gospel and trusting Him in faith and love to provide for us as we leave this out!
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:44)