“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning” Luke 12:35
When I became a Christian, it was a powerful experience. I was in the first year of high school, and after several discussions about Jesus, God, and the Bible with a friend of mine, I was invited to ask Jesus into my heart to be my Lord and Saviour. I did so promptly after arriving home one day from school. Although the details are fuzzy in my mind, I remember how the world seemed to go from black-and-white to technicolour. I felt as if scales had fallen off my eyes and I eagerly entered into a process of growth that was characterized by a frantic effort to learn as much about what it meant to follow Jesus as possible.
Over time this acute, razor-sharp sense of God’s presence compelling me into His mission faded. It wasn’t long before I was tempted to shift into cruise control, sleep-walking my way through each day as a Christian. I found that I could complete my devotions, go to church, and fulfill basic requirements my faith called me to, all while following Jesus casually from a safe distance.
In today’s reading we discover a warning from Jesus to stay wake. Jesus’ command to “be dressed” is derived from the language of “girding one’s loins,” a practice that refers to readying oneself for a confrontation. At its heart, these two parables are a warning to those who have become complacent and no longer live with a missional urgency to follow and obey Jesus. As R.C. Sproul writes, “These servants could easily slip into a slovenly state and take a rather cavalier attitude towards their responsibilities.” Too often my own Christian life has reflected this cavalier attitude.
The command to remain watchful and awake should act as smelling salts to us. Amidst the fog of busyness, routine, and even outright apathy, Jesus points to where this complacency leads: not just spiritual stagnation, but spiritual deterioration. Without a felt sense of urgency and accountability, the manager’s attitudes quickly devolve into abuse of power and disobedience.
Israel’s leadership—the focal point of this parable—is clearly being warned to keep awake and turn from their exploitative practices. However, there are lessons here for all of us. We must diligently stay awake. Each of us must “gird our loins” and prepare for battle as we move into a world in bondage to sin and darkness. Our spiritual focus on Christ and His kingdom must be razor sharp. Our resolve to faithfully set about the work He has prepared for us must not waiver.
Lenten Reader 2018
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