Before we can behave as children of the light, we must be children of the light. Our ability to act in the right ways stems from who we are, not the other way around.*
I read these words as I was preparing this blog post on Mark 13. This is one of those chapters of the Bible that you kinda want to read with your covers over your head. This is serious stuff: wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine. Sound familiar? These are the last days, I know Christians have been thinking this since the 1st Century, but the time of Christ’s return is imminent and always has been and Jesus compels his listeners to be prepared in the final verses of this chapter–he admonishes, that no one, not even he, Jesus, knows the day or the hour of the second return (32). And for that reason, he likens it to the owner of a house leaving his servants in charge. He could return at the break of day, dinnertime, just as everyone is settling in to bed…it’s the feeling of having your house on the market. Everything must be ready at all times and you find yourself getting irritated at your kid for taking out a puzzle because your agent could call at 8:30 am with a 20 minute warning that “very motivated” buyers are coming with them.
So how can we be ready, at any moment to “move,” to have our lives transformed, in a moment, a twinkling of an eye?
Explicit instructions are contained in I Thessalonians 5:1-11:
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He DIED for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Why does scripture associate the unknown with darkness? There are movements in the wee hours that are inexplicable, things that go bump in the night, but as children of the LIGHT, we illuminate the world around us, we compel people to see things as they really are, we expose the darkness and we have an abiding peace that a restless world is seeking. We share that peace, we share that hope in the way that we approach a given trial. Goodness knows, I don’t have this peace down yet.
But even more than that, it’s how we live. We live in such a way to make every moment, every conversation, count. We can’t beat ourselves up if we miss the opportunity to invite the new neighbors to church, but we do need to live in such a way that they see why we do something different on Sunday morning.
So, it’s not about what we do, it is who we are, we should be self-controlled, sober, alert, always abounding in the work of the Lord, joyful in hope, patient in affliction. Here’s the reassuring part, we are given the equipment to do this. We CAN do this: helmets, shields, breastplates, these protect our vitals–where we are the most vulnerable to attack: our head and our heart. My sister-in-law (otherwise known as my scripture with legs) reminded recently me that Satan is relentless, we too must relentless in remaining in the Light.
*”Heart Language: Reclaiming Christian Vocabulary.” InTouch Feb. 2013: pp. 50-51.