Before going to seminary, I was a private investigator working insurance fraud cases. Part of my job involved clandestinely sitting outside of a subject’s home in the back of my surveillance van. Often I would arrive well before sunrise, get a suitable position, but the person wouldn’t leave their home all day.
During one case, after I sat outside of a man’s house for nearly a week with no activity, my complacency got the best of me. It was still very early. I had driven several hours to get there, and I was exhausted. I dozed off.
Three hours later I woke up! Startled, I looked at the camera monitor and I saw the man’s garage door wide open, and the subject’s vehicle long gone.
Almost a week’s worth of investigation down the drain. Thousands of dollars of an insurance company’s money wasted and, of course, my reputation and job on the line. All because I felt complacent and lost focus. All because I was sleeping on the job.
Maybe something like this has happened to you. We all know that sleeping on the job is bad. It can have disastrous consequences.
As Christians, God has given us many jobs to do in our vocation as disciples of Jesus. One of the most important is that we live our lives according to God’s will in anticipation of Christ’s return.
The Christians that met in the church in Thessalonica knew they were to be vigilant for Jesus to come back. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5, “You yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Paul was reiterating Jesus’ own teaching that no one knows the day or the hour he will return. But he also reminds them, and us, we still should not be surprised when Jesus comes back. We should be prepared!
Paul continues, “You are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”
Waiting for Jesus, we Christians must not become complacent and fall asleep on the job. Like Paul said, let us stay awake and be sober! Why? First, so temptations may not entice you back into sinful and wicked living. Second, so you can fulfill your responsibly to share the gospel while he delays so as many as possible may come to the faith and knowledge of Jesus.
Therefore, not only for your sake, but for those around you, do not be inattentive to your Christian duty. Stay awake. Ignore the false prophets who constantly predict the end of the world.
But also, do not become complacent, thinking that Jesus will not come back in your lifetime. Let’s pray he does! Instead, look forward with eager anticipation to his return, while also giving the Holy Spirit the opportunity to prepare you through worship and through the study of God’s word.
May God bless your witnessing so that, through you, God might bring even more into the kingdom before the end has come.