Today’s reading: Matthew 24
A global pandemic, the busiest hurricane/wildfire season on record, political divisions and racial tensions made 2020 a year like no other. It was so crazy, the word “unprecedented” became over used. With each awful development, I heard more “chatter” about whether the end times were upon us. In our scripture for today, Matthew 24, Jesus was talking to his disciples about the end times – foretelling what is going to happen in advance of Jesus’ return or “the second coming”.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:6-8).
Does this sounds a little like 2020? I’ll admit it did to me when I read it this week. At least until I got to verse 36.
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Matthew 24:36).
If no ones knows the day or the hour, including Jesus himself, is it reasonable to think it would be that easy for us to figure out? We are not that smart. Why then would we waste our time? Rather than evaluating the “signs” and trying to predict what’s next, or worse yet, spending our time worrying about it, we should be focused on getting ready.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Matthew 24:42, 44).
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that in Gallup’s Strengths Finder 2.0 my top strength is Achiever – I like to get stuff done. My second and third strengths are Futuristic and Strategic – I am inspired by what could be and have a knack for coming up with alternative ways to move forward. When I think about Matthew 24:42 and 44, I am energized about how glorious Jesus’ return will be. But my mind quickly turns to thinking about what I need to be doing so that I’m ready when he gets here – what is my path to get from here to there. The answer is pretty easy to come up with – I need to be following Jesus Christ and transforming my life to look like his.
That is much easier said than done, of course, so how do we break this bold goal into smaller, more consumable chunks on which we can make progress? As I thought about this a little more, my mind went to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). These chapters are probably Jesus’ most complete description of what the life of a Chrisfollower should look like. Starting with the Beatitudes (qualities that describe Christfollowers) and moving on to topics like murder, adultery, divorce, giving, prayer, worry, judging, etc, Jesus provides a playbook for how we should think about, act, and react when faced with various topics and challenges in life. If you are like me, energized about the future when Jesus comes to take us home, yet want to make sure you are prepared for his arrival, spend some time studying the sermon on the mount and let it guide your choices.
…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:).