Keep watch, because you do not know . . .

I got back from the gym one recent morning and found the garage door open. Some dry leaves hung from the bottom of it and must have persuaded the automatic mechanism that it was unsafe to close it. Fortunately, I live in a neighborhood with hardly any burglaries. I have two “watch dogs,” but the biggest weighs 12 pounds. I understand that little yappy dogs more effectively discourage burglars that big ones, but if a thief had come, I would have been totally unprepared.

Some time earlier, I was sitting at my computer and felt a bump. It was as if something very heavy had fallen on the ground nearby, or something heavy had bumped into the house. The dogs started to bark, of course, but after I satisfied myself that nothing awful had happened, I didn’t think anything more of it until I turned on the evening news. It turns out I had felt a tremor from an earthquake in Virginia–at 5.8 on the Richter scale, the strongest earthquake to hit the east coast in 67 years. Are the east coast, or the midwest for that matter, prepared for a really big earthquake? Probably not, even though geologists have warned for years that one will happen eventually.

Earthquake damaged houseThere’s a saying, “Trust God, but lock the door.” In a very-low-crime neighborhood, though, it’s easy to become complacent. In places with earthquake faults that aren’t active very often, it might be good to say, “Trust God, but buy earthquake insurance.” Unfortunately, even though geologists regularly warn that a major earthquake has to happen eventually even in places that don’t often get any at all, it’s easy to become complacent.

What does this have to do with grace and judgment? Jesus is coming back:

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 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 (NIV)

At least since the Millerites of the 1840s, misguided Christians have predicted that Jesus will come back on a particular date. It hasn’t happened yet, and whatever dates anyone proposes in the future are dates on which discerning people will recognize that Christ will not return. But the fact remains. Jesus is coming back. He said so. The church has taught so ever since. And Jesus has not come back. Yet. That day is a day closer than it was yesterday. In the mean tome, it’s easy to become complacent.

Are you keeping watch? Are you ready? Are you living to please God? When Jesus does return, all hell will break loose at about the same time. It will be too late to begin preparing for the coming of the rightful Lord of the universe. If you’re reading this, however, is not too late now. If you’re not ready, get ready.

Photo credit: Earthquake-damaged house Some rights reserved by Martin Luff

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