Working and watching to prevent terrorist attacks is a top priority for government intelligence and security agencies, in today’s world, the more eyes searching the horizon for danger, the better. When I think about the money and work being invested in watching for something that may or may not happen, such as a terrorist attack, I consider how well the church is doing at working and watching. Resources have to be invested in counter-terrorism efforts whether another attack ever happens or not. But in the church’s case, we know of something that is absolutely going to happen in the future—something we should be working and waiting in anticipation of. And that event is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth.
This article assumes the fact that Jesus is coming again. And it also assumes the absolute necessity, by Jesus’ own words in two of His parables, to work and to watch until He comes. If government agents work and watch for things that “might” happen, how much more should we be working and watching for something that we know is going to happen?
How to Work Until Jesus Returns
The first parable, the one about our responsibility to be at work until He returns, is in Matthew 25:14-30—the parable of the talents. The theme of this well-known parable is “Do business until I come.” Every Christian should be able to answer this question: “What business am I to accomplish for my Master until He comes again?”
From the New Testament, we could list a score or more of specific responsibilities we have as followers of Jesus. But let me summarize them under four headings—and ask you to consider “How’s business?” in your life with regard to each one.
1. Publicize the Gospel. Our Master’s marching orders when He left earth could not be more clear: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). To determine “how’s business,” think about these issues: With how many people have you shared the Gospel in the last six months? How many missionaries do you personally support?
2. Promote the health of the church. Spiritual gifts are given in the body of Christ to enable individual Christians to build up the church. How are you using your spiritual gift(s) to build up the church toward maturity? Where are you serving?
3. Prioritize your life. Just as the servants in Jesus’ parable stood before their master to give an account of their work, you and I will stand before Jesus Christ one day to do the same thing (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). In the last twelve months, how many times have you adjusted the affairs of your life to be more Christ- and kingdom-centered?
4. Pursue your work with hope. The servant in the parable who did no work (and lost his reward) lived in fear, not in hope. If you truly believe what Jesus Christ said, and what the Bible teaches, you will live with more certainty about the return of Christ than about anything else in your life. Your answers to the first three of these points are an indication of just how hopeful you are about the work your Master has left you to do.
How to Watch Until Jesus Returns
The second parable Jesus told is in Matthew 25:1-13—the parable of the ten virgins. The five wise virgins were ready to receive the bridegroom when he appeared, while the five foolish virgins were not. When they went and made preparations and returned, the door to the celebration had closed.
Since we do not know the hour of His return, we must know how to watch until that day.
First, do not be deceived by anything (Matthew 24:4-5). You and I must live an on-guard life, keeping our eyes focused on the one true Savior and returning King.
Second, do not be troubled by anything (John 14:1, 27). The peace of Jesus Christ is stronger than anything from this world that threatens you.
Third, do not be confused by anything. There is only one focal point in life, and that is Jesus himself. Fix your eyes on Him alone (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Fourth, do not be tempted by anything. Like a child who gets caught doing something wrong when his parents arrive home unexpectedly, Jesus is going to return at an hour you least expect (Matthew 24:42-44).
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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