As I read stories about sudden catastrophes and the damage they cause, I can’t help but think of what Jesus said in Matthew 24:37-39: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking… until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away.”

It’s possible to be in imminent danger without any knowledge of it or sense of urgency, but delay can be deadly. The word “urgent” comes from an old Latin word meaning “to urge.” It means that an event is occurring that is so compelling it requires immediate attention. To hesitate is to be lost.


What Is Different?

Despite the urgency of our own times, people have a lackadaisical attitude toward life. Our secular society has shrugged off religious concern. Governments consistently attempt to marginalize Christianity, while large numbers of people seek other avenues to spirituality.

Meanwhile many Christians have lost the urgency of their task. I’m an advocate of Bible study, personal devotions, daily quiet times, church attendance, and Christian reading. I believe we should surround ourselves with godly friends and influences. But there’s a danger to that. We can become so comfortable in our Christian routines that we grow content and complacent.


What Has Not Changed

Death has not changed. There is still a 100 percent death rate for every generation. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The urgency of salvation hasn’t changed. This is what the apostle Paul shared with Governor Felix in Acts 24. “Now as [Paul] reasoned … Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you’” (verse 25). But as far as we know, Felix never called.

Timothy Dwight, once said, “To procrastinate the business of salvation is the real madness… Procrastination is the thief which steals away not only our time, but our hopes, our souls, our all…. Today is the day of salvation.”[1]

The Bible says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

Furthermore, Christ’s return hasn’t changed, except in one way—it’s closer now than it’s ever been. Philippians 4:5 says, “The Lord is at hand.” Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). Peter said, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10).

That’s why the Bible tells us to stay alert and vigilant. How would you live today if you knew Christ would return tomorrow? Let me suggest three strategies for living with a sense of urgency.

First, beware of wasting time. While we all need periods of rest, we don’t need to fritter away our time. The Bible tells us to number our days and to redeem the time (Psalm 90:12; Ephesians 5:16). Billy Graham said, “Time moves so quickly, and no matter who we are or what we have done, the time will come when our lives will be over. As Jesus said, ‘As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming when no one can work.’”[2]

Second, beware of the sedative of satisfaction. Don’t get too comfortable in this world, and don’t let a settled Christian routine diminish the excitement of salvation. Ask the Lord to keep you disturbed—in a sanctified sense. Let’s say: The love of Christ compels me.

Finally, remember that the brevity of life is also your friend. It’s a comfort to know that life—with all its pressures and problems—is short. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

God’s people must always have a sense of urgency. “Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed, finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.”[3]

That will never change, and we will never outlive His faithfulness.

[1] Timothy Dwight, Sermons, Volume 2 (New Haven: Hezekiah Howe and Durrie & Peck, 1828), 503.

[2] Billy Graham, Just As I Am (NY: Harper Collins, 1997), 739.

[3] Frances R. Havergal, “Like a River Glorious,” Hymns of Consecration and Faith. (London: Marshall Bros., 1876).