Our reading today comes from Matthew, chapters 23-25
We are coming down to the end of Christ’s passion, and as we journey forward we can feel His anxiety and His sense of urgency building throughout these chapters. It is almost as if you can see Him, speaking more loudly and in a more rushed tone of voice. In these final days before His death, He seems to be desperately trying to get one point across:
Get your heart ready, time is short!
We see multiple parables and encounters that relate to this theme, and I am struck by the intensity of them. What I am taking away from these 3 chapters is this:
Jesus is going to come back, and most of us won’t be ready. Frightening isn’t it? When He returns, and His angels begin gathering up the faithful, will I be one of them? Will you? I don’t claim to know anything more than what these particular scriptures tell us. But these are the main points that I am hearing loud and clear:
1. Jesus will come back
2. He will gather up the believers
3. Many people will be left behind
4. Religious activity will not get you recognized.
5. Faithfulness is the key
6. It takes a lifestyle of daily faithfulness to prepare ourselves for the judgment.
7. No one knows when He will come.
As I read these passages, I was overcome with grief for those that were left behind. In all the stories, those folks that thought they were doing the right things, those folks that thought they had more time – they were tragically mistaken. And the door closed on them. Forever. I don’t know about you, but a life sentence in eternity, with no chance of parole, is a harsh thing to imagine. And yet, Jesus says, many church folks will end up there.
So what does it mean to be faithful? I think that is something that each one of us needs to really spend some time with. We need to be praying and asking God to show us the paths of righteousness and help us to walk them. But I do believe that going through the religious motions is definitely not the way. This is just my opinion, but going to church, serving on a committee, and throwing a $20 in the plate every now and again is probably not going to cut it. As He says Himself, even being a devout tither won’t get it either. So what will?
As I said earlier, we each need to be seriously asking that question for ourselves. But two things were pretty clear to me.
1. Heart condition – I believe that Christ will judge our hearts, minds, and attitudes without giving a second thought to our public activities. Did I love others? Did I forgive? Did I do my best to lead other people to Him? Did I take care of those that couldn’t take care of themselves? Did I give and serve with a cheerful and generous spirit?
2. Relationship – Do I have a deep relationship with Him? Did I spend time with Him daily? Did I immerse myself in His word, so that I could be transformed into His likeness? Did I put Him above everything else?
For me, only by doing these things daily will I become like Christ. Connecting with Him occasionally, worshiping Him only through convenience, and serving Him on a couple of days a year will not prepare me for His coming. I don’t think on that surprising day, I want to try to explain to Him why He hasn’t heard from me in a while and why I have been too busy to attend worship this month. My soul will ride on that conversation. I want it to go well. I just want to hear those grace-filled words, “Well done good and faithful servant. Come into the joy of your master.”
This message was so very clear for me. I would love to hear some feedback about your impression of these parables and encounters.
Blessed Maundy Thursday Friends.
You try so hard to get my attention. And You wait for me to get it, so that I will not perish. Praise be to mighty Jehovah! For you are merciful, slow to anger and quick to forgive. Speak to me Lord, in ways that I can understand. Show me the faithful path. Walk with me each day, and lead down the path to salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Show me how to finish well.
In the name of my Savior I pray,