Friday, May 25, 2018

The Olivet Discourse: Be Prepared

The paradox of certainty v. uncertainty in regard to Christ's Return has some practical implications for the serious believer. We know with certainty it’s coming, but don’t (and can't) know when, so how should we then live? We're not left without instructions on the subject from Christ in the Olivet Discourse, which, as it happened, served to bring that discourse to an end. So what was the final word on the word about the final? Simply, "be prepared."

In Matthew's account, Christ advises that uncertainty is the fuel of preparation. Because the Son of Man will be coming at a time it doesn't seem like he will, being prepared for his return at any time is the only wise, practical response--a point graphically reiterated in The Parable of the Ten Virgins. Christ spoke of a parabolic homeowner who, if he would have known in what part of the night the thief was coming, would have made sure he was awake to prevent it. Since we cannot know when Christ will return, we should be at least as conscientious as that homeowner (who had a better forecast in regard to the thief than is possible for us in regard to Christ) and be watching rather than sleeping.

Luke presents the most general application of all three accounts: pay attention (Koine: prosexete) reflexively to how you are living. We are not to live weighed down by the worries of ordinary life, especially, I would say, if drunkenness (or even just "buzziness") is the means of doing so. It is not a burden to live in Christ, but it is a burden to live for this world, and it lulls us to sleep in regards to spiritual truth. The only way to gain the upper hand, and not be trapped suddenly in the tribulation ("these things") to come, is to stay awake and pray that we can gain that upper hand.

Matthew and Mark, although different as to specifics, both use a similar parabolic example (cf. Luke 12:35-46) to get this message of practical import across. The thought is that we should take Christ seriously as Master over us and be doing what he told us to be doing when he gets back. Since we do not know when that may be, reason dictates that we always be doing what he asked. It appears the best preparation for the end of the age is to be obeying Christ as a lifestyle.

So what are you doing?

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