I found myself on the interstate last week during a heavy snow. The danger was clear. Drive too fast and you will careen out of control into the ditch, or worse. I witnessed it happening all around me. I also understood that my own efforts were not enough to control the risk. Other drivers pose a threat to me. Extra vigilance is required. My focus intensifies. This intense focus is true in the broader picture of our lives too. Here are a few things that we regularly keep watch on:
|· Finances||· Children|
|· Leaky basements||· Maintenance schedules|
|· Fuel levels in our gas tank||· Calendars|
By watching these things in the present, we minimize the future cost. The risk, of course, is when we fail to keep watch, or as Jesus says, we “fall asleep” (Mark 13:36). What do you have difficulty keeping watch on? How are you most likely to be found “asleep?” Additionally, remember that others around us can amplify the risk. As a culture, what is America not paying attention to?
|· Sobriety||· Pornography|
|· Idolatry||· Selfish Ambition|
|· Media – Internet, TV, music||· Community|
|· Personal responsibility||· Demystifying God|
To be honest, I wrote a few things there that I did not want to. Take sobriety, for instance. When I hear that word, my mind races to an image of an unfit father who neglects his responsibilities. This picture allows me to quickly dismiss it as, “not me.” Look closer. Consider how well do you “keep watch” after one glass of wine. How about two? Three?
Pornography is another issue that I would rather not address. But, I read a startling statistic this week that is worth sharing. It says that 70% of all 18 to 34 year-olds are regular viewers of pornography. And, on average, they started viewing it at age 11. Do you hear danger? I do. James Emery White explains the consequences in this blog post. It’s worth reading. As I look around, however, I can’t say that it’s surprising. Sexual images and viewing invitations are everywhere. I am fully desensitized. As Jesus puts it (Luke 22:46), I am sleeping!
Before you start losing hope, let’s look back at the promises of God. He gives us the equipment we need to keep watch both offensively and defensively. Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10. It tells us to build a defense with “the breastplate of righteousness.” This defense looks like integrity, holiness, and purity. Where do they come from?
|· Prayer||Matthew 26:41 tells us to watch and pray|
|· Submission||Hebrews 13:17 explains that our leaders are watching over us too. We should, therefore, listen to them|
|· Community||Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to be in prayer for all believers, everywhere. We are in this together!|
I have a harder time summarizing Our offensive posture, so I am going to rely on N.T. Wright. In his book After You Believe, he describes how we must, as Christ-followers, make the hard decisions and take the hard actions that run counter to our flesh. These are our offense. Through them, we “develop, in the present, the character which will truly anticipate the life of the coming age. …. Sooner or later, preferable sooner, each individual Christian must make the key choices to “put on” the things which genuinely anticipate, in the present the life we are promised in the future, the life we have already been given in Christ. And, having made those key choices, each Christian must acquire the habit of making them over and over again.”
As you can see, keeping watch isn’t hard. Keeping watch on the most important things – the things that affect our souls – requires focus and intensity. My prayer today is that something here shines a bright light in your eyes causing you to awaken from your sleep. I also pray that the darkness will forever be gone, replaced with the eternal light of love, made available to all of us through Jesus Christ.