Exhortation to Watch
Advent marks the occasion to anticipate and celebrate the birth of Jesus, as well as look forward to the Second Coming, when Christ promised he’d return to earth again. The only catch? He didn’t tell us when he’ll show up. We have to assume that Jesus can and might come at any time, and therefore we better practice constant vigilance in case that time is next month. Or this Thursday. Or tomorrow. Or…. right now! (If you are reading this sentence, you can at least be sure that Jesus did not come “right now” after all. Still could be tomorrow or this Thursday or next month, though.)
Be on guard. Do not let the day catch you unexpectedly. Be alert at all times.
When I read those words, my first thought was of a doomsday prepper sitting in an underground bunker, surrounded by canned goods, rope, flashlights, guns, and all manner of other survivalist gear. Just sitting and waiting for Jesus. If your life is anything like mine, that kind of preparation is not happening. I’ve got deadlines at work, dogs to be walked, errands to run, friends and family to see. I can’t just sit and wait!
Luckily, I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant by watching and being on guard for his arrival. I think he meant that we ought to be intentionally living our lives as if we knew Jesus was coming, was on his way, would be here any minute – because he might be. What would our lives look like if we were truly living as if Jesus were about to arrive? What things would we refuse to let distract us or weigh down our hearts any longer?
With that in mind, here are three things I want to commit to always trying to do in my daily life. Because if Jesus is about to show up, I want to be able to say, “Jesus, this day did not catch me unaware. Here’s what I’ve been doing to prepare for your arrival.” instead of, “Jesus, this day did not catch me unaware. I have a bunker full of canned beans.”
- Attend church more regularly. Heck, with my recent track record, this one could just as accurately be, “Attend church.” Faith is a communal experience.
- Use my spiritual gifts in service of others. Graciously, generously, happily do what I can for those who can’t.
- Take great care of God’s gift of Creation. Consume ethically. Recycle. Walk or ride instead of drive. Keep it clean. Plant green things. Appreciate green things.
What about you? How will you be prepared?